Further thoughts on Pells’ May 2022 editorial


Representing environmental and global influences

relevant to projects and their organisations



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


Pells’ editorial in the May 2022 edition of this journal was entitled, “This war changes everything, Old themes revisited, Black elephants (again, bigger), and a New view of risk.” In Pells’ own words, much of this editorial is an update on themes he has written about before – notably in his series of four editorials from January to April 2021 whose theme was “Project Management needs a Higher Purpose” (Pells 2021).

Both groups of editorials were particularly concerned with major existing and emergent environmental and global issues, and their actual and potential relationships with project management (PM), and the organisations that undertake PM. In this commentary, I will try to represent many of these issues in models, some with checklists, which may hopefully help project managers and their organisations track such issues, to facilitate appropriate responses, and/or proactive initiatives.

The format of this model will be broadly based on a hierarchy of business-related systems proposed by Kerzner 1979:17. I chose this partly because it is the earliest representation of such a hierarchical model in project contexts that I know of, and partly because it goes beyond the normal outer environmental context of projects and their organisations to add upper-level contexts, which include the global context of “The Earth” – which has become so much more immediately relevant in the current era, particularly compared with the pre-1979 era.

This five-level model will be modified to better illustrate the main issues developed in this commentary, and the relevant supporting materials. The two inner levels, the employee level, and the organisational strategic management level, are first discussed, before moving on to the three levels external to the organisation and its projects.

The first of these is the organisational operations management level, and a checklist of twenty relevant stakeholders presented. The next level is described as the external stakeholders environmental level, which has over thirty relevant check-listed stakeholders, many of which also qualify as regional/global influences in their own right.

This is followed by discussion on the final broader environmental and global level, which incorporates some sixteen relevant issues from Pells’ 2022 and 2021 editorials, and some of his earlier articles. These are supplemented with the 17 UN 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) checklists, which Pells notes have already been found relevant for some sustainable project initiatives. A summary compilation of all the above stakeholders and influences/issues is then presented, with concuding discussions.


A basic representation of a hierarchy of systems from Kerzner 1979

An early illustration of the multi-layered nature of hierarchies of systems in project-related contexts was proposed by Kerzner 1979:16-17 as follows.

Modern practitioners of systems management have attempted to redefine the hierarchy of systems first proposed by Boulding [1956] so as to obtain a more definitive picture of the business system. A representative grouping of system levels is shown in Figure 2.1.


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How to cite this work: Stretton, A. (2022). Further thoughts on Pells’ May 2022 editorial: Representing environmental and global influences relevant to projects and their organisations, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/pmwj119-Jul2022-Stretton-Further-thoughts-on-Pells-editorial-Representing-global-influences.pdf

About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD     

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)


Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 240 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at alanailene@bigpond.com.au.

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/