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Exploring decision making processes in-situ, in-actu, in-toto: an empirical study of decision-making processes in medium software development projects

Barcus, Anka (2014) Exploring decision making processes in-situ, in-actu, in-toto: an empirical study of decision-making processes in medium software development projects. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Organisational projects, a multifaceted socio-technical phenomenon that evolve in plural contexts often characterised by a high degree of interconnectedness, have become ubiquitous in strategy delivery. The traditional project management literature emphasises the significance of project and organisational objectives to project success, yet it is not clear how these objectives guide action at project level. Aiming to fill the gap, this empirical research studied project decision-making in two organisations with strong rational orientation that communicate strategic direction through objectives hierarchies, and define and manage projects by objectives. To study decision-making practices in project praxis, this thesis introduces the concept of a “decision site” as an area shaped by a triad of mutually constituting practitioners, sociomaterial context and decisionmaking practices, as well as the concept of “praxis domains” used to analyse entwinement between decision-making practices and sociomaterial context. The environment and participants’ perception was analysed based on semi-structured interviews with practitioners, review of existing organisational documentation, and daily project meetings were audio recorded through silent observation. Twenty eight decision episodes were identified and described in their organisational project context. Two process representations aided analyses of decision episodes, one tracing discursive reference to praxis domains, and the other diagramming decision-making activities which manage a decision site. Decision-making practices of “Neguesstimation” and “Querying Praxis Domains” were defined and differentiated by schemes and degree of entwinement with praxis domains. The thesis findings do not support the notion of project and corporate objectives as being instrumental in project decision-making. Instead, one of the observed practices queries praxis domains as proxies for complex hierarchies of organisational objectives and constructs decision site imbued with local practical logic. The thesis argues that practical logic could be successfully employed in aligning project level activities to complex and dynamic organisational context and suggests potential for development of practice based decision-making approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Anka Barcus
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Montibeller, Gilberto and Becker, Kai and Morton, Alec
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1064

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