Sample Masters Management Dissertation Chapter 4
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General Management’s Influence on Project Managers
How do Theories and Practices of General Management Influence the Development of Project Management Skills in Project Managers?
Chapter 4- Analysis and Findings
The review leads to a suitable methodology for the current study’s experimental research through extensive research first conducted from literature. The results of the current study follow in this chapter from an extensively planned and executed methodology.
The current study results include responses from the Likert scale questionnaire disrupted by various individuals working across a vast array of industries in the UK. Data from the questionnaire responses were compiled and analysed to draw out meaningful results.
It was essential to check for internal consistency within the questionnaire items to measure each item’s interrelatedness completed through Cronbach’s Alpha. Other tests followed the Cronbach’s Alpha which includes the test for relative importance index and frequency analysis, as discussed in chapter three.
The second phase of the research included interview results of individual project managers and general managers interested in participating in the study. A thematic analysis was conducted and reported in the current chapter to analyse the results of the interviews. The current study developed a connection between general management practices and theories on project management through these results.
Demographic Profile of Respondents
The current study aimed to investigate the perceived relationship between general management and project management to comprehend the influence on project management. For this reason, the population of 24,983 employed managers in the UK was sought out.
The questionnaire was distributed through conventional means and electronic across various industries in the UK. From the target sample of 300 managers, 255 questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 85.0 per cent. This is a healthy response rate allowing the results of the questionnaire to draw generalisations.
To understand the questionnaire results, it is essential to analyse the respondent makeup of those who had completed the questionnaires and sent them back. Of the 255 respondents that returned completed questionnaires, 49 were accountants, 47 were project managers, 46 were operations managers, 25 were office managers, 22 were HR managers, 19 were purchasing managers, 16 were marketing managers, 14 were quality control managers, 14 were supervisors/foreperson/lead positions, and 3 were professional staff (see appendix D). The following graph illustrates the job positions of the respondents.
Respondents were also analysed based on their relative industries. The industries indicated on the questionnaire (see appendix B) were categorised based on the Office of National Statistics (2016).
Based on the results seen in figure 184.108.40.206, the greatest number of respondents identified themselves to be working in the manufacturing industry, a total of 46 respondents. While the construction industry had 39 respondents, the second-highest transport industry had the third-largest number of respondents, 16 respondents.
The questionnaire also asked respondents to indicate the number of years of employment in the current organisation that employs them. By analysing this item in the questionnaire, the researcher can comprehend the respondents’ experience in the industry and the job position to answer the questionnaires.
According to table 220.127.116.11, project managers had the greatest number of years of employment, with 24 of the project managers have more than 15 years of employment in the company. HR managers follow this, 14 of whom had more than 15 years of employment in the organisation that employs them.
On the other hand, respondents from the accountants, bookkeeper, and controller category had the least about years of experience in terms of their years of employment has 23 of the respondents from this group had less than 5 years of employment in the current organisation. Operations managers also had a hefty amount of permanent employment in their organisation, as 28 of the respondents had 10 to 15 years of employment.
Table 18.104.22.168- Job Position to Years of Employment of Respondents
Each of these respondents brings to the study diverse working experience based on their job position, years of employment, and the industry for which they work. This provides the current study with diverse and unique perspectives to study, providing a more enriched analysis.
Validity Test of the Questionnaire
Cronbach’s alpha (α) (i.e., here on referred to as either alpha or α) is an imperative discernment and model for evaluating assessments and questionnaires (Trizano-Hermosilla & Alvarado 2016).
It is further argued by Okada (2015) that the use of alpha is necessary for all research regarding quantifying alpha to increase or improve the research’s validity and accuracy for interpreting data. For the current study, alpha was used to examine the items for the two question sets found in the questionnaire.
Table 22.214.171.124- Reliability Statistics (Alpha Results) for Questionnaire
Table 126.96.36.199 illustrates the alpha results for the questions in the current study’s questionnaire instrument. Based on the results of alpha compared to the rule of alpha obtained from Kline (2000) and DeVellis (2012) (see appendix E), the internal consistency is considered acceptable since it falls between the rule of 0.8 ≥ α ≥ 0.7.
The closer that alpha is to 1.0, the greater the items’ internal consistency on the scale. The study’s alpha for section 2 was .748, while section 3 produced an alpha of .728. The alpha was produced through calculations using IBM’s Statistics SPSS v.24 software package.
On the other hand, studies such as those conducted by Cortina (1993) and Cheng et al. (2014) disagree with the use of alpha and stress that the greater the number of items on the list influences the ability to inflate the value of alpha artificially. However, the current study had sections with an equal number of items (20) but produced average alpha results that differed.
The internal consistency of the results is acceptable, meaning that the items show one-dimensionality. A detailed analysis of alpha for each item is provided in appendix F and G. The internal consistencies of each item indicate that the overall alpha produced for each category is indeed not inflated, and the alpha can improve if certain items were included in the questionnaire.
Results of Questionnaire
The questionnaire produced percentage responses for each item in both sections; section 2 examined individuals’ perception of the influence on general management theory and practices on project management. On the other hand, the section 3 questionnaire examined the perceptions of valued skills that the project manager needs to possess.
Section Two of the Questionnaire
Section 2 of the questionnaire is presented in figure 188.8.131.52, which analyses participants’ responses based on their answers. The scale used for responses was a psychometric scale or Likert scale that measured perceptions based on the agreement or disagreement of a set of statements.
The scale was set based on five points, 1 is set to disagree strongly, 3 being neither agree nor disagree, while 5 strongly agreed. The statements in section two asked respondents about the influence of various general management practices and theories in simplistic terms, meaning the concepts were boiled down to topics and ideas that are easy to understand and reflect on.
These statements asked respondents to reflect on the influence of general management practices and theories on project management. For example, statements three, four, and five (see appendix B) all measured the respondents’ reflection of leadership theories of general management on project management.
According to figure 184.108.40.206, all respondents portrayed an extent of agreement for all statements except statements of “no difference between PM and GM” and general manager’s influence on “ethical business” practices in project management.
For question number one in section two, “ethical business” practices, 30.6 per cent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that “General management practices of conducting business ethically is a large influence on project management.” While only 26.3 per cent of respondents either agreed or disagreed with the previous statement.
However, there was an even stronger perception of the statement, with 43.1 per cent of respondents neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the statement. Question 19 of the questionnaire also produced similar results, with 59.6 per cent of respondents either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with “no difference between PM and GM” with the statement “There is virtually no difference between project management and general management.” While only 29.4 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement before.
Only 11.0 per cent of respondents indicated no opinion of the statement by choosing neither agree nor disagree. Throughout the remaining 18 statements, the opinion was almost unanimous in deciding the influence of general management concepts on project management.
Figure 9.1 in appendix H provides a more comprehensive look at the responses by comparing the amount of agreement to a statement to the extent of disagreement. Questions two to 18 and question 20 present a high agreement to the respective statements based on the graph.
Questions 12, 16, 17, and 18 present a high percentage of the difference between disagreement amounts to an agreement with a statement. For example, question 18, with the statement “Good project managers are good managers and the core skills of management like motivation, leadership, organising, communication and decision making are identical,” presented a difference of 55.294 per cent, with 64.7 per cent of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement. In comparison, only 9.4 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Question 17, with the statement “Project management has been influenced by management principles that stress the need for quality management and the efficient use of resources,” produced a difference of 60.020 per cent, with 72.9 per cent of respondents identifying with a degree of the agreement.
In comparison, 3.9 per cent of respondents presented a degree of disagreement. Question 12, with the statement “The importance of strategic planning found in management literature is critical to project management,” presents a difference of 69.804 per cent, with 74.9 per cent of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing to the statement when only 5.1 per cent of them either disagree or strongly disagree to it.
Lastly, question 16 presented the greatest amounts of difference in agreement with 74.902 per cent of difference as 80.8 per cent of respondents agreed to a varying degree to the statement, “The role of a project manager is influenced by the principles of management in which managers are responsible for directing the organisation to achieve goals rationally.” In comparison, only 3.9 per cent of respondents indicated an extent of the disagreement with the statement.
Section Three of Questionnaire
Section three of the questionnaire is presented in figure 220.127.116.11, which analyses participants’ responses based on their answers. The scale used for these responses was also a Likert scale that measured the participants’ opinions based on their extent of agreement or disagreement with the statements.
This scale was set based on five points, 1 is set to disagree strongly, 3 being neither agree nor disagree, while 5 strongly agreed. The statements in section three asked respondents the skills needed in project managers according to general management principles and theories.
To ensure that the ideas presented were understood by respondents regardless of their educational background or experience in management, these statements were simplified for the participants.
For example, statement three of section three asked respondents whether project managers need to have leadership skills based on general management principles. Likert scale that measured perceptions based on the agreement or disagreement of a set of statements. The scale was set based on five points, 1 is set to disagree strongly; 3 being neither agree nor disagree; while 5 strongly agreed (see appendix B).
According to figure 18.104.22.168, there is a trend of agreement with respondents regarding general management skills that project managers need to present.
However, there is a larger disagreement in a few skills that signify that project managers don’t need this skill. This disagreement is found in questions six, 16, and 18, with many respondents indicating that these skills are not required. Figure 22.214.171.124 shows that 49.8 per cent of respondents disagree with question six statement, “Project managers should have administrator skills,” on the contrary, only 25.5 per cent of respondents agreed to the statement.
This indicates that the majority of respondents believe that project managers do not need administrator skills. Only 24.7 per cent of respondents indicated no opinion, with the response neither agree nor disagree. Question 16, with the statement, “Project managers need to have the ability to follow up,” had 49.0 per cent of disagreement with respondents either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.
While 45.1 per cent of respondents either agree or strongly agree. This indicates that project managers must have the skill of following up with. Lastly, question 18, with the statement, “Project managers need to be good negotiators,” had an extent of disagreement of 51.0 per cent while 49.0 per cent agreed to the statement. This indicates that respondents believe that it is not necessarily imperative for project managers to have negotiation skills.
According to figure 126.96.36.199, only two statements of the section had 100 per cent agreement responses. Question four with the statement, “Project managers need to have problem-solving skills,” 45.5 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement, while 54.5 per cent of respondents strongly agreeing with the statement.
This indicates that project managers need to have problem-solving skills based on the unanimous agreement to the statement. Another statement that has had this complete agreement is question 15 with the statement, “Project managers need to have organization skills” 40.0 per cent of respondents agreed to the statement. In comparison, 60.0 per cent of respondents strongly agreed to it.
This allows for the interpretation that respondents perceive organization skills to be imperative for project managers. Another statement with the strong agreement was question two with statements, “Project managers need to be efficient in their timing,” with 90.6 per cent of respondents feeling that agreement or strongly agreeing. This indicates that respondents believe that time management is a skill necessary for project managers.
Figure 10.1 in appendix I provides a more comprehensive look at the responses by comparing the amount of agreement to a statement to the extent of disagreement. Questions seven, eight, nine, and 20 present a high agreement to the respective statements based on the graph. Question 20 gives a difference of 65.882 per cent in terms of the agreement to disagreement.
The statement, “All project managers need to be extremely good decision-makers,” had 81.6 per cent either agreed or strongly agreed. In comparison, 15.7 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed, showing that project managers need to have decision-making skills. Question seven, with the statement, “Project managers need to have listening skills,” had a difference of 66.667 per cent, with 77.3 per cent of respondents portraying a degree of the agreement while 10.6 per cent disagreed with it.
The highest difference is found in question eight, statement, “Planning and goal-setting skills are essential for project managers,” with a percentage difference of 73.333 per cent as 85.1 per cent of respondents conveyed a degree of the agreement. In comparison, 11.8 per cent portrayed a degree of disagreement with the statement.
Demographic Profile of Interviewees
Through purposive sampling, respondents were chosen based on the following characteristics:
1. Must have worked for the organization for over 2 years.
2. Have had experienced in management for over 5 years.
3. Have had an educational background in the theory and practice of general or project management.
4. Under the concepts of project management.
A total of 10 respondents were selected, with five being project managers and five being general managers from our sample of respondents used in the questionnaire. Those respondents who satisfied three of the four requirements and were willing to participate were chosen for skype interviews.
Table 188.8.131.52- Interviewee Demographic Profile
|Respondent||Industry||Years of Employment|
|PM-1||Construction||More than 15 years|
|PM-3||Aerospace||More than 15 years|
|PM-5||Construction||More than 15 years|
|GM-1||Manufacturing||More than 15 years|
|GM-2||Financial Services||10-15 years|
|GM-4||Construction||More than 15 years|
The interview participants were nearly homogenous in that eight out of the ten had more than 10 years of employment in their current organization. Also, the chosen respondents matched each other in terms of their industry. This homogeneity allows for generalizations to be made from the results.
Results of Interviews
The interviews consisted of a total of twelve questions, with three questions having followed up questions. The questions were structured, but they did provide open-ended follow-up questions that allowed for an in-depth conversation with the interviewees.
In the introductory questions, interviewees were asked if they had the opportunity to study general and project management concepts, to which all ten responded with the affirmative. All participants also had the opportunity to participate in projects for their organization and be part of a project team.
The concepts found through the interview results were complex and lengthy, making it difficult to portray in a limited number of words present in the current study. Therefore, using NVIVO 9.2, a thematic analysis was conducted, which allowed for more core concepts to be compared with the ten different interviewees.
General Management Influence on Project Management
One of the first questions in this interview section asks participants to analyse general management’s functions and concepts in project management. All participants agreed that the core function of general management is quite engraved in project management. Some of their responses are presented below
The next set of questions focused on general management’s perception of organisation and influence on project management. The following are some results from the interviews.
Competencies Needed for Project Managers
Interviewees were asked to reflect on their answers from the questionnaire form to extend the knowledge available on core competencies or skills essential for project managers. One of the questions was to list the top three essential skills that project managers need to have. The answers for some of the participants are as follows;
Question number two of the interviews looked to explain the participants’ vast disagreement regarding project managers’ skills of administrator skills, negotiation, and follow-up skills. Many individuals had portrayed an opinion that this set of skills are not needed in project managers. Interviewees were asked to reflect on it depending on their answers to the questionnaire.
Of the ten respondents, three respondents, all three being general managers, agreed with the statement that project managers don’t necessarily need these skills.
GM-3 stated, “They are important skills, but I don’t think they are needed for project managers because their key duties are more entrenched in managing the team, planning the project, and coordinating its execution. I don’t see where negotiation or follow-up comes along. As for administrator skills, that is something that may not be associated with the duties of a project manager.” The remaining general managers, GM-1 and GM-5, also gave this same opinion regarding the theme present. The theme present was job-related duties and responsibilities; each of the interviewees indicated that the project manager’s role does not use these specific sets of skills.
On the other hand, most project managers disagreed with this statement, saying that negotiation and follow-up are essential skills for project managers. One of the participants, PM-3, insisted that this skill set is important for project managers, specifically drawing up from his own experience.
The other project managers and GM-4 vocalised a similar opinion with the same themes present in PM-3’s argument. The others’ argument’s central theme was the diversity of current roles, responsibilities, and duties of a project manager. The variety of projects across the industry for a project manager.
The findings show that managers across a broad spectrum of industries see the influence of general management principles, theories, and practices on project management. Based on the questionnaire results, many managers found that general management concepts are seen in project management.
The same notion is also present in the interviews that were conducted. Project managers need to find similar trends in both the questionnaire and interviews with competencies and skills.
A relative importance index (RII) was used to analyse the questionnaire’s result to rank the principles, theories, and practices of general management influence on project management and essential skills necessary for project managers. According to Johnson and LeBrton (2004), RII helps find the contribution of specific variables to an entire system or phenomena.
According to table 184.108.40.206, the RII for section 2, specific items from the questionnaire contributed to the notion that general management influences project management.
Based on the results from the table, it is evident that themes such as direction for achieving strategic goals; strategic planning and quality management; management processes present in project management; the notion of multiple disciplines contributing to the formation of project management; contingency & crisis management; communication skills; and diversity & non-discrimination contribute major influences on project management. These factors were considered the top five in ranking based on the results from RII analysis.
Table 220.127.116.11- RII for Section 2
|1||S2Q16||Direction for achieving strategic goals||0.839216||1|
|4||S2Q13||Mgmt. Processes present in PM||0.801569||3|
|6||S2Q7||Contingency & Crisis, Mgmt.||0.781961||5|
|8||S2Q11||Diversity & Non Discrimination||0.767059||5|
|9||S2Q14||Mgmt. Process influence on PM||0.746667||6|
|10||S2Q4||Diplomacy & Negotiations||0.738824||6|
|11||S2Q18||Good PM are Good managers||0.734902||7|
|14||S2Q15||Mgmt. Process built PM||0.664314||9|
|15||S2Q20||GM influences all aspects of PM||0.638431||9|
|19||S2Q5||Human nature & Resistance to Change||0.580392||12|
|20||S2Q19||No differences between PM and GM||0.510588||13|
These factors or variables are seen playing a contributory role in influencing project management. For example, a total of 80.8 per cent of participants agreed that “The role of a project manager is influenced by the principles of management in which managers are responsible for directing the organisation to achieve goals rationally.” Our interviewees also experienced this opinion when discussing general management’s function and its influence on project management. GM- 3 argued, “…. from a general management perspective, we need to oversee the objectives and their processes through departments and the personnel involved in those processes.
However, project management does the same thing by encompasses it into a project that uses a team of individuals from, maybe different departments.” There is an agreement with participants about the extent of influence that general management has on project management regarding project managers responsible for directing the organisation to achieve its goals logically.
Based on the literature review, this concept is evident in a majority of management literature, such as Fayol’s (1916) description of the functions of a manager explained through his fourteen principles of management; division of work, authority, responsibility, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, and subordination of individual interest to general interests, centralisation, equity, and union in strength; all of which contribute to the strategic makeup of management practices that have been transitioned in to project management. One of the fifth ranking themes from our RII; Contingency and crisis management theories and practices are influential on project management.
This statement, “Management theories of the planning process, including the preparation of contingency plans and crisis management are reflective in project management,” produced 73.7 per cent of agreement among respondents. This opinion is reflected in the vast literature analysed.
It was found that the main aims of the contingency approach and crisis management were focused on improving the connection between organisational processes and characteristics of a specific relationship. Management theory’s view on contingency is that various situations and circumstances need to be handled using different management techniques, which means applying management techniques by adjusting them based on a situation or the organisation’s structure.
According to Bredillet et al. (2015), the viewpoint of contingency theory in management gave birth to project management as project management theories presume that a project is best managed as a contingent to a specific situation at that very time, looking at it from an internal and external environment.
Section three of the questionnaire analyses respondents’ opinions based on their essential skills in a project manager stemming from general management practices and theories. The answers’ collection and RII analysis took place to produce the following results in table 18.104.22.168.
Table 22.214.171.124- RII Results of Section 3
|2||S3Q4||Problem Solving Skills||0.90902||2|
|4||S3Q8||Planning & Goals Setting||0.868235||4|
|10||S3Q3||Leaders & Motivators||0.750588||8|
|11||S3Q12||Critical Path Thinking||0.746667||8|
|18||S3Q16||Ability to Follow Up||0.574902||14|
Table 126.96.36.199 shows that the top five skills respondents thought project managers should have included organisation, problem-solving skills, time management, planning & goal setting, and technical knowledge. As discussed in section 188.8.131.52.2, question 15 and question 4 both had 100.00 per cent agreement to the respective statements.
This trend is also seen with answers to interview questions in section 184.108.40.206.2, in which respondents indicated in their top three skills that organisation and problem-solving were essential to project managers.
Time management is also seen as an essential skill that project managers need to possess, which is evident from the questionnaire where 81.961 per cent of respondents agreed that “Project managers need to be efficient in their timing.” The body of knowledge related to project management indicates that three facets need to be present within a defined life cycle for a management process to be considered project management: the integration and control of time. Interview PM-1 argued that time management is an essential skill for project managers as “…most tasks that we perform or coordinate are time-sensitive and very detailed.”
Based on the findings and analysis of the current study, it is evident that themes such as direction for achieving strategic goals; strategic planning and quality management; management processes present in project management; the notion of multiple disciplines contributing to the formation of project management; contingency & crisis management; communication skills; and diversity & non-discrimination contribute major influences on project management.
This was concluded from the extensive frequency analysis of the questionnaire and relative importance index. This was further reinforced through the semi-structured interview questions. Furthermore, the top five skills respondents thought project managers should have included organisation, problem-solving skills, time management, planning & goal setting, and technical knowledge.
These two were concluded from a frequency analysis and relative importance analysis from the questionnaire’s responses and further cemented from views portrayed in the interview portion of the research.