Project Management


A Historical Timeline


By Pat Weaver

Melbourne, Australia

The objective of this paper is to put the development of management, and project management capabilities into a wider historical perspective. This is done by associating some of the significant events in history with the advances in management thinking documented in our papers and a brief selection of important engineering and other achievements. Each of our papers tends to be topic specific, for example focused on advances in cost engineering or the creation of bar charts. This paper juxtaposes the documented advances in each of the separate papers, and places them in the context of general history.

The intent, to quote Joseph Priestley (1733 – 1804) is that a well-constructed timeline becomes “a most excellent mechanical help to the knowledge of history[1], and may identify cross linkages that may be worth further research – history does not occur in isolation. Other coincidences may be simply interesting, for example Henri Fayol (France) and Henry Gantt (USA) both published significant books on the management of factories in 1916 while World War 1 was raging.

The advances in project and general management knowledge documented in the various historical papers we have published are identified by the inclusion of a ‘Referenced Document’ alongside the dated event. Other broader historical events have been drawn from a wide range of sources and are not specifically referenced.

Eras and phases of development

Phases in the development of management and project management

Neither the phases of general management development, or project management development, are included in the tabulation below, primarily because the transition between phases is far from precise. Most of the time there was a gentle evolution of approach rather than distinct changes. The phases of general management development shown above are described by Hargroves K, Smith M. in The Natural Advantage of Nations (Earthscan, London 2005 p17) and are considered in more depth in The Origins of Modern Management[2].

The phases of project management development are outlined in The Evolution of Project Management[3] where the developments in the current era (CE) are defined as follows:

  • Anointed. From the collapse of the Roman Empire to the 15th Kings or Bishops would decide on the need for a new castle, cathedral or other facility and either oversee the work directly, or anoint a trusted noble, or artisan, to manage the endeavor on their behalf.
  • Appointed Professionals. The way projects were funded and project managers appointed gradually shifted to a selection process based on perceived competence. Control remained with the project owner.
  • Appointed Contractors. The shift to a main contractor taking full responsibility for the works including delivering the agreed scope on time, for an agreed cost, seems to be a 19th century development that continues to the present.
  • Paleo Project Coordination and Leadership – 1920s to 1950s. The modern concept of project management as a cross discipline function that required leading, coordinating, and/or managing the work of others started to emerge in the 1920s.
  • Modern Project Management Phase 1 – Convergence (1960s to 2010s). The concept of project management as a single unified practice capable of successfully delivering most projects, most of the time, emerged in the 1960s and saw a rapid expansion of project management world-wide.
  • Modern Project Management Phase 2 – Divergence (2010s to the present time). The publication of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001 started the trend towards divergence in the way projects are managed.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Weaver, P. (2023). Project Management – A Historical Timeline; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/pmwj125-Jan2023-Weaver-project-management-historical-timeline.pdf

About the Author

Patrick Weaver              

Melbourne, Australia


Patrick Weaver, PMP, PMI-SP, FAICD, FCIOB, is the Managing Director of Mosaic Project Services Pty Ltd, an Australian project management consultancy specialising in project control systems.  He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building, Australasia (FCIOB) and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD). He is a member of the the PMI Melbourne Chapter (Australia), as well a full member of AIPM, and the Project Management College of Scheduling (PMCOS).

Patrick has over 50 years’ experience in Project Management. His career was initially focused on the planning and managing of construction, engineering and infrastructure projects in the UK and Australia. The last 35 years has seen his businesses and experience expand to include the successful delivery of project scheduling services and PMOs in a range of government, ICT and business environments; with a strong focus on project management training.

His consultancy work encompasses: developing and advising on project schedules, developing and presenting PM training courses, managing the development of internal project control systems for client organisations, and assisting with dispute resolution and claims management.

In the last few years, Patrick has sought to ‘give back’ to the industry he has participated in since leaving college through contributions to the development of the project management profession. In addition to his committee roles he has presented papers at a wide range of project management conferences in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia, has an on-going role with the PGCS conference in Australia and is part of the Australian delegation to ISO TC258.

Patrick can be contacted at patw@mosaicprojects.com.au or at www.mosaicprojects.com.au.

To view other works by Pat Weaver that have been published in the PMWJ, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/patrick-weaver/

[1] For more on the charts produced by Joseph Priestley see:

[2] These phases of management development are discussed in The Origins of Modern Management: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P050_Origins_of_Modern_Management.pdf

[3] Download The Evolution of Project Management from: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/AA021_The_evolution_of_project_management.pdf