Specialist PM

and more generalist project-related contributors to organisational strategic management



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia




In the last seven issues of this journal I have been discussing various contexts in which projects are undertaken. In this article I want to revisit the context of organisational strategic management (Stretton 2019f) and look further at two types of project-related contributions to organisational strategic planning and execution.

The first type is the familiar specialist project management (PM) input to organisational strategic management, which is very widely practised, and tends to dominate the mainstream project management literature. The second, and more generalist type, is typified by those EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) contributions which are particularly involved in FEL (Front End Loading) activities. This type is often associated with mega-projects (very large complex projects), and is widely used in such industries as oil, gas and minerals. It appears to me to receive less attention in the mainstream project management literature than its importance deserves.

The co-existence of these two approaches can pose some interesting questions about the place of specialist and generalist modes of contributing project management inputs to organisational strategic management. This article will first present a five-stage framework for the latter. It will then discuss the two main forms in which specialist project management is practised, before discussing more generalist project-related approaches. I will then broadly align both the specialist and generalist types of contributions with the stages of the organisational strategic framework, and discuss some key differences between the two, and their implications for the organisations involved.


Projects and organisational strategy

I noted in Stretton 2019e that, as far as I have been able to ascertain, virtually all projects, no matter how originated, are, or soon become, direct components of organisational strategic plans and their execution. Whilst the project management literature rather naturally tends to focus on projects per se, there are also frequent recognitions of their place in the broader context of contributing to the achievement of organisational strategic objectives.

For example, Cleland & Ireland 2002:106 say:

An emerging conviction among those professionals who do research on, publish, and practice project management is the belief that projects are building blocks in the design and execution of organisational strategies.  

Amongst the many other authors who also relate projects directly with organisational strategies, Shenhar & Dvir 2007:23 say, very directly,

Most projects are part of the strategic management of their organizations,…

A basic organisational strategic management framework

I introduced a basic organisational strategic management framework in Stretton 2017l in this journal, and later discussed it in more detail in a series of five articles on organisational strategic planning and execution, starting with Stretton 2018d. It has also been used in later articles, including Stretton 2019b. As can be seen in Figure 1, the framework has five stages.


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How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2020). Specialist PM and more generalist project-related contributors to organisational strategic management; PM World Journal, Volume IX, Issue I, January. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/pmwj89-Jan2020-Stretton-organisational-strategic-management-and-specialist-generalist-PM.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 200 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/.