How Increasing Projectification and Temporality

have changed the way we look at Project Management Offices – A Systematic Literature Review



By Peter Kaul,

Based in Germany
Skema Business School, France


Robert Joslin,

SBS Swiss Business School

Zurich, Switzerland




Increasingly, projectification and temporality forces project-based organizations to rethink how to set up a sustainable environment that supports projects being likewise able to deal with ongoing organizational changes due to varying needs over time. Project management offices (PMO) can help organizations to increase project-related success and organizational performance. However, PMOs are still under-researched which is why a comprehensive review of our current understanding is required.

This paper examines how the research into PMOs in organizations has evolved over time, seeks to find patterns in the different themes of research covering the past 20 years. A systematic literature review is conducted into the body of literature of PMO research with the specific focus on PMO success. The review provides the reader with a structured overview and insights about the main phases and themes that were researched. whilst raising and answering pertinent questions during the review of the body of literature.

The motivation for this study is to provide clarity to divergent knowledge about PMO design structures and what is considered best-suited to support projects in environments of temporality.

The study result reveals four major clusters of research: the early years phase was followed by (1) the first cluster which was concerned with PMO roles, value, maturity and leadership. (2) The second cluster included strategic fit, organizational dependencies and context and causes for PMO reconfiguration followed by (3) cluster three which covered project-based organizations and organizational design. (4) Finally, cluster four examined services, outcomes, structure and impact of PMOs. All four clusters cover specific and related themes and perspectives. Surprisingly, the environmental/organizational perspective appears twice (cluster two and three), however, the focus is different since the understanding has evolved over time.

The findings demonstrate how our understanding of PMOs has evolved over time. where there is a shift in research focus from a reductional, functional perspective to an organizational and service-oriented perspective. However, the study also reveals a number of gaps and questions to be addressed.

The implications for academia are the contribution to a systematic understanding of PMOs, the major research clusters and the identification of research gaps. The practical implications consist of a structured and condensed overview as well as insights into the body of literature about PMOs.

Keywords: PMO, success, value, governance, organizational design

JEL Code: M, M00


This paper examines PMOs in project-based organizations (PBO) with the specific focus on PMO success. PBOs are defined as organizations or firms in which “the majority of products made or services supplied are against bespoke designs for customers” (Turner & Keegan, 2001, p. 256). PMO success is still under investigation, first papers highlight the multifaceted character of PMO success where the outcome includes performance objectives, benefits and (perceived) value over time (figure 1).


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 8th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States at the University of Latvia in April 2019.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers

How to cite this paper: Kaul, P. and Joslin, R. (2019); How Increasing Projectification and Temporality have changed the way we look at Project Management Offices – A Systematic Literature Review; presented at the 8th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2019; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IV, May.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/pmwj81-May2019-Kaul-Joslin-Increasing-Projectification-and-Temporality-1.pdf



About the Authors

Peter Kaul




Peter Kaul, DBAc., MBA, MSc., FBCS CITP, PMP, PMI-ACP, IPMO-E is key account program manager for global IT and SAP initiatives of different sizes and complexity with a proven track record of successful programs and projects across 20+ countries including US, Latin America, APAC and Europe. Having been involved in many successful business transformations in different industries, he is experienced to work in complex and fast changing international environments and enjoys cultural diversity. Peter is also a passionate trainer, academic researcher, conference speaker and author in the field of organizational design, project management and project management offices (PMO). Together with a group of experts and researchers he is currently working on a first universal maturity standard for PMOs which is also part of his doctoral research that Peter is about to finalize in Summer 2019. Peter has published several academic papers on PMO success and maturity and is reviewer for different international conferences including PMI, Academy of Management, EURAM, IRNOP. Peter can be contacted at: peter.kaul@skema.edu


Robert Joslin, PhD




Robert Joslin, PhD, PMP®, PgMP®, CEng, is a portfolio/project/program management consultant, professor at Swiss Business School and co-founder of AIPMO. He has 20 plus years in designing, initiating management delivery of business transformation, reengineering, infrastructure, strategy development including winning prizes for ideas and product innovation. Previously, a consultant in telecom, banking, insurance, manufacturing and direct marketing whilst working for McKinsey & Co, Logica and his own consulting company. Robert has published book chapters and research papers in the field of project, program and portfolio management and presents his research at conferences such as PMI research and EURAM. Robert is a peer reviewer of the top three research journals in project management and the founder and organizer of the annual PMI Swiss program management conferences. He developed an information structuring methodology aligned and complementing PMI Standards. Robert is in the process of writing a new PMO international standard for AIPMO as well is in the process of authoring books on Portfolio, Program and Project management. He can be contacted at robert.joslin@faculty.sbs.edu