Academic journal article Journal of the Academy of Business Education

Project Management in Operations Management Textbooks: Closing the Gap

Academic journal article Journal of the Academy of Business Education

Project Management in Operations Management Textbooks: Closing the Gap

Article excerpt


In the past 40 years, projects have gone from being fringe activities to activities that are central to the way work is done in many organizations. Project management has increasingly become the default form of management [Kloppenborg & Opfer, 2000; Longman & Mullins, 2004] in information systems-based organizations. Formal project management techniques using networks were developed during the 1950s and 1960s for planning and controlling schedules and costs primarily on huge aerospace, defense, and construction projects [Sapolsky, 1972]. Since the 1990s businesses have turned to project management to help them plan and manage complex efforts to achieve new objectives under stringent deadlines [Kloppenborg, 2009]. Functions such as project resourcing, project financing, and project scheduling have become ubiquitous [Burke, 2013].

Project managers have become critical to the organization. The demand for them is growing rapidly. One estimate [Project Management Institute, 2009] concludes that between 2010 and 2020 the project management profession is slated to grow by $6.61 trillion globally across seven project-intensive industries creating an additional 11 million project management jobs over that period. In 2010 in the United States there were 5.5 million jobs in project management. This is expected to increase to almost 6.2 million by 2020. A search on May 20, 2016 on for "Project Manager" turned up over 12,000 full-time jobs in New Jersey state alone; over half of these indicated salaries of $75,000 or more.

As projects have grown in size, scope, and frequency, project management education has become more important. Both traditional academic institutions and nonacademic institutions have developed curricula to fill this need. Traditional universities, since the 1970s, have incorporated project management instruction to some degree into their business, engineering, hospitality management, and public administration programs. Outside the university, the most prominent example (in North America) is the Project Management Institute ( whose courses and certifications have become the industry standard.

Despite the numerous kinds of project management training and education available there is considerable evidence that a gap exists between what educational institutions provide and what is needed in today's complex project environments [Ramazani & Jergeas, 2015; Berggren & Soderlund, 2008; Cordoba & Piki, 2012; Ojiako et al., 2011;Thomas & Mengel, 2008]. Similarly, a survey of Information System (IS) curricula in northeastern universities in the U.S. found that project management is not adequately covered although it is considered to be a highly important skill area by both IS and non-IS industry professionals [Kim, Hsu, & Sterm, 2006]. These shortcomings in project management education are seen as seriously impacting the skills and knowledge that project managers are expected to possess to successfully manage projects [Nixon, Harrington, & Parker, 2012].

Business schools offer degrees, certificates, and stand-alone courses in project management. However, for most undergraduate and graduate business students, the only exposure to project management comes in a required operations management survey course. Given the growing centrality of projects in organizations this one opportunity has to be exploited to maximum effect.

With this in mind, the focus of this paper is on the treatment of project management in the context of the typical operations management course offered by business schools. Two questions are addressed:

(i) What are the main project management topics/concepts discussed?

(ii) Are these topics relevant-do they provide useful knowledge or skills to students who might end up managing or participating in projects?

Both authors have significant experience in project management in business organizations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.