Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

SOAR and Motivation as Mediators of the Relationship between Flow and Project Success

Academic journal article Organization Development Journal

SOAR and Motivation as Mediators of the Relationship between Flow and Project Success

Article excerpt


Flow refers to a behavioral state of optimal human experience. This study investigates flow in predicting the success of SAP projects among a sample of 109 SAP professionals. Mediation analysis using SEM found strengths-based strategic thinking of SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results) and motivation explain flow impact on project success. Results imply that flow, when enhanced with the principles of SOAR, presents a framework that aligns the organization and the individual's needs in a positive constellation to encourage optimal performance.

Keywords: flow, project management, SOAR, mediation analysis, appreciative inquiry, strategic thinking, motivation


Organizations have been increasingly using projects to achieve their strategic objectives in today's complex and uncertain socio-economic environment (Anbari, Bredillet, & Turner, 2009). Projects are used by organizations to implement their overarching strategies, and the importance of strategic thinking, planning, and implementation is crucial to positive organizational change. Of significance in the realm of strategic organizational change is the growth of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects which are designed to improve operational efficiency and productivity of business processes for the enterprise (Soja, 2008). ERP projects are examples of "whole systems" which, due to their broad organizational invasiveness and complexity, are particularly prone to difficulty during implementation. One of the leading providers of ERP solutions is SAP - Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing. In response to the challenges of project delivery, we address a concept known as flow and study its relationship to SAP project success among a sample of SAP professionals from a strengthsbased positive perspective.

Flow is concerned with a state of optimal performance, and a person in a state of flow has awareness of actions but not of the awareness itself (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988,1990). F/owis rooted within the theory and practice of Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) and Appreciative Inquiry (AI) which recognizes that dysfunctional organizational behavior does exist; however, by examining theoretical contributions to organizational success, such as solution-seeking, strategic thinking and whole-system change, POS and AI ask practitioners to apply theoretical findings to better facilitate organization development (Cameron, Dutton, & Quinn, 2003). Growing out of both POS and AI is SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results), a profoundly positive framework for strategic thinking, leading, and planning that supports an organization to construct its future through collaboration, shared understanding, and a commitment to action (Stavros, Cooperrider, & Kelley, 2007). Also related to the study of flow is intrinsic motivation, which is concerned with the performance of some task when there is no apparent reward for the performance except the activity itself and the feeling of satisfaction or enjoyment which is derived from completing the activity (Van Ypered & Hagedoom, 2003).

This study was designed with three purposes in mind. First was to measure perceptions offlow and project success in SAP professionals and investigate the positive effect that flow has on project success. Second was to use mediation analysis to investigate SOAR and motivation as explanatory variables of the positive effect that flow has on project success. Third was to support practices that may encourage flow and aid professionals and the project teams they engage to improve project success rates and to most effectively deal with the complex challenges encountered in project delivery.

Review of the Literature


Project management is an evolving discipline, and the study of projects in organizations has contributed a great deal to the field of management with several researchers suggesting that an organization's strategy is implemented through projects (Archibald, 1987; Beck, 1983). …

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