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Professor Shankar Sankaran


Shankar Sankaran is an academic leader in organisational project management, systems thinking and action research at the UTS School of the Built Environment.

His research covers organizational project management, project leadership, megaprojects, systems research, action research and innovation. His latest research projects include: ‘Balancing person centric and team centric leadership in projects’; ‘Developing Capability in Conducting Action Research’ and ‘Co-Design for Dementia: Identifying Opportunities for Design Thinking in Aged Care and Dementia’.

At UTS, Shankar teaches advanced level subjects in project management at postgraduate level, in particular, Project Governance Portfolio and Program Management, Systems Thinking for Managers, Negotiation and Conflict Management and Community Project Internship. He is a Visiting Professor at the Erasmus Mundus Program being conducted at the Umea School of Business and Economics in Sweden where he teaches project management students in an international MBA program. He has successfully supervised more than 30 doctoral students in business and management. He is experienced in supervising practitioners who want to pursue doctoral qualifications to deliver research of practical value.

Shankar is a Core Member of the Helmsman Centre for Mega Projects that will be based at the UTS Business School and played a key role in its conception. He is the Vice President (Research and Publishing) at the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)  and Chair of its Action Research SIG, Distinguished Fellow of the Action Research Centre at the University of Cincinnati, Associate of the Project Management Chair at UQAM, Montreal, Canada; UTS representative on the Standards Australia ISO Technical Committee 258 supporting the development on ISO 21500 Guidance on  Project Management and is assisting the development of ISO’s Guides for  Project and Program Management Competencies (Work Group 8). He is also the Australian representative in the Board Member of the European Academy of Management. Shankar volunteers for the Project Management Institute’s Global Accreditation Centre as a Team Leader of on-site visit teams.


Membership of Professional Bodies:

  • Member, Project Management Institute (PMI), USA.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP), Project Management Institute, USA.
  • Member, Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), Australia.
  • Member, Action Research and Action Learning Association of Australia (ALARA).
  • Member, International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), USA
  • Member, Academy of Management (AOM), USA.
  • Member, European Academy of Management (EURAM)
  • Member, Institution of Engineers, Australia (MIE Aust.)
  • Member, Institution of Engineering Technology (MIET), UK.
  • Chartered Professional Engineer, (Engineers Australia)
  • Chartered Engineer (CEng), Engineering Council, UK.
  • Member, The British Computer Society, (MBCS), UK
  • Life Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), USA

Honorary Appointments:

  • Chair,Action Research Special Integration Group of the International Society for the System Sciences
  • Vice President – Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences
  • Member of the Advisory Council for Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University, Canada
  • Distinguished Fellow, Action Research Centre, University of Cincinnati, USA.
  • Assessor for the Global Accreditation Centre of the Project Management Institute, USA.

Editorial Appointments:


  • CI Sustainable Sanitation Research Grant that won the
    2012 Green Globes Award for environmental excellence, leadership and innovation from the
    New South Wales Government in Australia
  • Best Technical Paper Award with Amela Peric: 
    PMI India Research and Academic Conference, Pune 2011
  • Best Technical Paper Award with Hariharan Subramanyan, Perry Forsythe and Christopher Biesenthal at the PMI India Research and Academic Conference. Mumbai, 2015
  • Best Research by an Individual or Team of Experienced Researchers: 
     UTS Health Research Showcase 2008

Image of Shankar Sankaran
Professor, School of the Built Environment
Core Member, Asia-Pacific Centre for Complex Real Property Rights
Core Member, CMOS - Centre for Management and Organisational Studies
DMIT, Bachelor of Science, Graduate Diploma of Counselling, MEng, PhD
Member, The Institution of Engineering Technology (IET)
Member, Institution of Engineers, Australia
Member, Project Management Institute
Member, British Computer Society
+61 2 9514 8882

Research Interests

  • Project Management (Leadership and Project Governance)
  • Systems Thinking (Soft Systems Methodology)
  • Action Research (Organizational)
  • Linking theory-and-Practice

Research Grants:

  • 2016-7 Investigator in a PMI Sponsored Research Program  led by Ralf Müller titled ‘Balancing Vertical and Team Leadership in Projects.
  • 2013 - 2014 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant ‘Exchanging Knowledge on the Impact of Action Research in the Pacific Rim’
  • 2013 – 2014 Teaching and Learning Grant ‘Developing technology-assisted multidisciplinary (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) learning strategies for 2014’
  • 2010 – 2011 CI in a Challenge Grant ‘Transitioning to sustainable sanitation futures: a transdisciplinary pilot project of urine diversion, phosphorus recovery and reuse in agricultural applications’ led by UTS-ISF.
  • 2010 – 2013  CI in an ARC linkage grant in titled ‘Strengthening leadership capacity in Australia's rapidly changing aged and community care sector ‘ with researchers from  Southern Cross University and University of Southern Queensland and Lutheran Community Care, Queensland and Baptist Community Services, NSW as industry partners- completed in 2013.
  • 2010 – 2012  CI in an International Collaborative Research Grant with Norwegian Researchers titled ‘A Study on the Interrelationship of Governance, Trust and Ethics in Temporary Organizations’- Completed in 2012
  • 2009- CI in a contract research project investigating into Construction Project Success Indicators for Liberty Underwriters.
  • 2009 – 2013 Lead CI in an ARC Linkage Grant (LP0989839) titled ‘Governance Matters: identifying and making sense of the antecedents to project-blowouts’ carried out at CMOS with Helmsman International as industry partner.
  • 2008 – CI in a UTS Challenge Grant  led by  Prof. Spike Boydell titled 'Sydney Restored'.
  • 2006-2007: Collaborative Research Grant with Lutheran Community Care to develop a Leadership Development Framework for Non-Profit Organizations in Health and Community Care.
  •  2005-2006: Pilot Research Project on Leadership Development with the Lutheran Community Centre in Queensland.
  • 2003-2004: Aged Services Learning and Research Collaboration at Coffs Harbour, for a collaborative research grant of with A/Professor Jim Curran of ASLaRC.
  • 2002 – 2004: Sandvik Australia Learning Experience ‘Action Learning’ Project for leadership development,
  • 2003: NZ Ministry of Labour, CEDAR sustainable community action research project.
  • 2001: Australian Council of Healthcare Standards – Evaluation of EQUiP Quality Accreditation Program.

Higher Degree Research Supervision

  • Vindin, B. (2016) Investigation of Consumers’ Expectations of Service in Not-for-profit Faith-based Residential Aged Care from the 2020s:  A Leadership and Organisational Culture Perspective PhD (UTS), Mixed Methods Research, Location: Australia. APAI student in an ARC Linkage Grant. (Co-supervisor Kelly Shaw) 
  • Syed, G. (2016) An Interpretive Framework for IT Projects using Complexity Theory Principles, PhD, Narrative Analysis Location: Australia.
  • Joslin, R.  (2015) Relationship  between Project Methodology and Project Success which is Influenced by the Project Context, PhD (SKEMA), Location: France (Principal Supervisor Ralf Müller)
  • Djukic, J. (2015) The Suitability of Micro Units for Metropolises: The Built Environment’s Adaption to a Demographically Changing Urban Population, DPM (UTS), (w/Pernille Christensen and Vince Mangioni). 
  • Vignehsa, K.  (2014) Stuckedness: On the Organizational Art of Forbearance,, PhD (UTS), APAI student in an ARC linkage grant. (Principal Supervisor Stewart Clegg)
  • Gastris, M.L.  (2014) Evaluation of Key Drivers in the Development Performance of City Structures , Location: Australia, (Principal supervisor Dr. Sumita Ghosh)
  • Algeo, C., (2014)  How do Project Managers Exchange Knowledge - an action research study of project managers in Australia, PhD (UTS), Action Research, Location: Australia. (W/Karl Runesson)
  • Bisenthal, C.  (2013) Projects as Arenas for Pragmatic Management Practices: Improvisation, Capabilities and Change, PhD (UTS), APAI student in an ATC Linkage Grant. (w/Tyrone Pitsis, Erlend Dehlin and Ralf Wilden)
  • Ablong, A. A  (2013). A Study into the Dissonance in the APS Governance Principle of Accountability in the Management of Major Acquisition Programs at the Australian Department of Defence, PhD, Location: Australia. (w/Julien Pollack)
  • Bisenthal, C.  (2013) Projects as Arenas for Pragmatic Management Practices: Improvisation, Capabilities and Change, PhD (UTS), APAI student in an ATC Linkage Grant. (w/Tyrone Pitsis, Erlend Dehlin and Ralf Wilden)
  • Costello, K. (2012) Building on “Soft Systems for Soft Projects”: Project management lessons learned, PhD (UTS), Qualitative Research, Location: Australia. (w/Julien Pollack)
  • O’Sheedy, D (2012). A Study of Agile Project Management Methods used for IT implementation projects in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Action Research, DBA (Southern Cross University), Location – Austria. (Principal supervisor Dr. Jun Xu)
  • Mukerji, D. (2011) A study of Effective Decision Making during Construction Planning to reduce project failures, Mixed-Methods, PhD (SKEMA, France), Location: Australia
  • Pasian, B. (2010) An investigation of Project Management Maturity :  A Critical Analysis of Existing  and Emergent Contributing Factors, DPM (UTS), Case Research, Locations: Canada. (Principal supervisor Spike Boydell)
  • Butcher, M. (2008) Participatory Development: Methods, Skills and Processes, PhD, Qualitative, (Co-supervised with Dr Bob Dick), Location: Australia.
  • Brydges-Down, M., (2008) Sharing Knowledge in Standard Aero, Ltd’s Redesign Group, Masters, Action Research. Royal Roads University, Location: Canada.
  • Walker, S. (2007). What are the Major Barriers to the Successful Implementation of Knowledge Management Projects in the Telecommunication Industry: An Action Research Study, DBA, Action Research, Location: Europe.
  • Orr, M. (2007), The Implementation of Electronic Health Knowledge Management Systems in Waitemata District Health Board, DBA, Action Research, Location: New Zealand.
  • Dobele, A. (2007), Positive Word of Mouth Referrals, PhD, Quantitative, (Co-supervised with Dr Tony Ward), Location: Australia.
  • Haig B. (2007), How and Why Credibility-Based Company Logos Can Be Effective in Marketing Communication in Persuading Customers to Take Desired Action: A Multiple Case Study in Branding, PhD, Case Research. (Co-supervised with Dr Dick Ward), Location: USA.
  • Nogare, L. (2006), Grow or Go –  A Theory-Building Study Regarding the Growth and Survival  of Micro to Small Business Enterprises, PhD, Southern Cross University, Action Research (Co-supervised with Dr Bob Dick), Location: Germany.
  • Wong, P. (2006), A Study of Business Ethical Practices in Australian Organisations – A Multiple Case Study, DBA, Qualitative Research, Location: Australia.
  • Kumar, M. (2006), Total Quality Management as the Basis for Organizational Transformation of Indian Railways, DBA, Action Research, Location: India.
  • Mau, M. (2005), Action Research: Connecting Knowledge in the Australian Public Sector, DBA, Southern Cross University, Action Research, Location: Australia.
  • James, P. (2005), Knowledge Asset Management: A Study of the Lifecycle of Knowledge Assets, DBA, Southern Cross University, Case Study Research, Location: Australia.
  • Gibbs, A. (2005), Management of Cultural Issues in International Engineering Projects, DBA, Southern Cross University, Case Study Research, Location: Europe, Asia, South America.
  • Thatcher, S. (2004), Optimization and Implementation of Strategies Associated with Technology and Telecommunications Solutions (infrastructure as opposed to applications development), DBA, Case Study Research, Location: India/Philippines.
  • Denigan, T. (2004), The Impact of Economic Rationalism on Early Childhood Teachers in Long Day Care – A Cultural Perspective, DBA, Qualitative, Location: Australia.
  • Tay, B.H. (2003), Using Action Research to Develop a Model-based Expert System for an Industrial Environment, PhD, Southern Cross University. (Principal Supervisor Stewart Hase) Action Research, Location: Singapore.
  • Mui, D. (2003), Project Management Approach for Effective and Efficient Implementation of Urban Renewal Projects in Hong Kong Special Administration Region, DBA, Case Study Research, Location: Hong Kong.
  • Burnett, L. (2002), Applications of Quality Management in Healthcare and Especially in Pathology Laboratories, DBA, Quantitative, Location: Australia.
  • Jones, B. (2001), Knowledge Management: A Quantitative Study into People’s Perceptions and Expectations in the Developing Knowledge Economy, DBA, Quantitative, Location: Australia.

Higher Degree Research Supervision in Progress:

  • Adler, D. Project Management in Practice Through the Lens of Activity Theory,  PhD (UTS), Location: Australia.
  • Tanswell, P. Drivers and Implementation of Change in Sporting Environemnts: Australian Cricket., DPM (UTS). (w/Michael Er)
  • Shalbafan, S.  Gaming and Decision Making in Project Portfolio Management, PhD (UTS), Location: Australia (w/Julien Pollack)
  • Ang, K. Project Portfolio Value Dimensions in Multi-Stakeholder Environments, PhD, (UTS-FEIT), (Principal Supervisor Cathy Killen)
  • Lawler, C.Project Portfolio Management and Business Outcomes: An Action Research Exploration Within an Australian Not?for?profit Healthcare Context, PhD, (UTS-FEIT), (Principal Supervisor Cathy Killen)

Can supervise: Yes
Category 1, including PhD level

Systems Thinking for Managers - PG

Negotiation and Conflict Management - PG

Project Finance and Analysis - PG

Governance and Leadership of Project Management - PG

Community Internship Project - PG


Edson, M.C., Buckle Henning, P. & Sankaran, S. 2017, A Guide to Systems Research: Philosophy, Processes and Practice, Springer, Singapore.
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This guide is designed for systems researchers – emerging and seasoned – searching for holistic approaches of inquiry into complexity, which the Systems Sciences provide.
Sankaran, S.H.A.N.K.A.R. 2013, Novel Approaches to Organizational Project Management Research: Translational and Transformational, 1, Copenhagen Business School Press, Copenhagen.
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Clegg, S.R., Sankaran, S., Biesenthal, C. & Pollack, J. 2017, 'Power and sensemaking in megaprojects' in Flyvbjerg, B. (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management, Oxford University Press.
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Sankaran, S. & Biesenthal, C. 2017, 'Governance at the Front-End' in Müller, R. (ed), Governance and Governmentality for Projects: Enablers, Practices, and Consequences, Routledge, New York, pp. 221-237.
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The chapter describes two case studies conducted in Australia to investigate ethical issues that occurred in two project organisations. The issues were primarily a result of internal conflicts, as each party tried to protect its own interests or was concerned about how decisions taken by them in the interest of the organisation might affect them personally. The authors propose that such conflicts could be minimised if the organisations adapted their governance practices to minimise 'interface' problems.
Sankaran, S. & Bradley, C. 2017, 'Action Learning with student volunteers at an ALARA conference' in Zuber-Skerritt, O. (ed), Conferences as Sites of Learning and Development: Using Participatory Action learning and Action Research Approaches, Routledge, London and New York, pp. 113-127.
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Sankaran, S. & Sankaran, G. 2017, 'Thinking Inside the Box: Applying the Theory of Karma to Make Boundary Judgements in Systemic Interventions' in Nandram, S.S. & Bindlish, P.K. (eds), Managing VUCA Through Integrative Self-Management: How to Cope with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in Organizational Behavior, Springer International Publishing, pp. 131-147.
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Systems researchers often combine methodologies to carry out systemic interventions in a purposeful way. Midgley defines a systemic intervention as 'purposeful action by an agent to create change in relation to reflection on boundaries. It is therefore important when undertaking systemic interventions that researchers and practitioners engage in 'boundary critique '. This involves making judgements on inclusion, exclusion and marginalization of stakeholders, and on the issues relating to the intervention. Midgley argues that it is impossible for practitioners involved in systemic interventions to become neutral modelers or facilitators. They suggest that practitioners have to explicitly acknowledge these limitations and manage them while making decisions about system boundaries. Midgley et al. also recommend that a systems approach to an intervention should include exploration of stakeholder values and boundaries for analysis, challenge marginalization and use multi-methodologies. This chapter will explore—providing examples of issues faced during systemic interventions from the literature—how the Indian philosophical concept of karma (right action) could assist the 'thinking inside the box' that could assist systems researchers to make boundary judgements while carrying out systemic interventions 'outside the box'.
Sankaran, S. 2017, 'Taking Action Using Systems Research' in Edson, M.C., Buckle Henning, P. & Sankaran, S. (eds), A guide to Systems research: Philosophy, Processes and Practice, Springer, Singapore, pp. 111-142.
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Sankaran, S. & Dick, B. 2015, 'Linking theory and practice in using action-oriented methods' in Designs, Methods and Practices for Research of Project Management, Gower, Farnham, pp. 211-224.
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We felt that there is a great opportunity for PM researchers to use dialectical approaches such as action research, action learning and action science to link theory and practice. The aim of this chapter to provide doctoral students a practical way to use action-oriented methods – action research, action learning and action science – to carry out research in and about projects while making a theoretical contribution to the field. After briefly explaining each of these methods the chapter discusses ways in which these methods can be combined to provide synergy. The chapter discusses some common data collection strategies used with these methods, also pointing out that other methods of data collection are welcome if the research project requires such data. Action research is often criticised for not being scientific and therefore a discussion on how it can be made rigorous and valid at both data collection and data analysis stages is discussed. Action researchers often do not write up their research using the conventions used in conventional quantitative and qualitative research theses or dissertations. A section is therefore devoted to discussing how to write up action research in novel ways. The chapter includes several reflective exercises to guide the reader (student or researcher) as well as some tips for supervisors of action research projects. At the end of this chapter, the reader can: * understand the basics of action-oriented methods and how they can be used in a research project; * justify adequately why action-oriented methods are applicable to your research project; * establish a model/process to carry out your research applying action-oriented methods.
Sankaran, S. & Cameron, R. 2015, 'Mixed methods research in project management' in Designs, Methods and Practices for Research of Project Management, Gower, Farnham, pp. 273-285.
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The inspiration for this chapter derives from a passion for mixed methods research (MMR) and many years of teaching and providing capacity building in mixed methods to novice and experienced researchers alike. Other management fields have started adopting mixed methods in their research. PM needs to keep up, as we naturally think qualitatively and quantitatively to solve problems we encounter in projects. The aim of this chapter is to provide doctoral students with a broad-brush view of mixed methods research (MMR) and to place MMR historically and paradigmatically against the paradigm wars of the 1970s. This will provide an historical context for MMR's growing popularity and utility across many disciplines and fields of inquiry. The chapter defines MMR and provides a discussion on the paradigmatic stances, designs, typologies and notation systems of MMR. It reviews MMR prevalence studies. The chapter includes tips for supervisors and researchers/students and exercises to assist those new to MMR in a practical and applied sense. At the end of this chapter, the reader can: * define MMR and the associated mix ed methods notation system; * recognise the need for those utilising MMR to position themselves paradigmatically and explicitly articulating the rationale for using MMR designs; * apply the good reporting of a mixed methods research (GRAMMS) framework when reporting an MMR study.
Sankaran, S. 2015, 'Achieving synergy through combining action learning and action research' in Lifelong Action Learning and Research A Tribute to the Life and Pioneering Work of Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt, Sense, Amsterdam, pp. 47-64.
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This is why Ortrun is a vital energy in shaping the evolution of the 'Action' family of scholarship, now including PALAR and LAL (Lifelong Action Learning).
Sankaran, S. 2014, 'Implementing organizational change using action learning and action research inan Asian setting' in Willis, J.W. & Edwards, C.L. (eds), Action Research: Models, Methods, and Examples, IAP–Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, pp. 131-152.
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In this chapter I will describe an action research (AR) study that I used to develop local managers in a multinational company where I was a senior manager and had taken over responsibility for managing a newly set up global engineering operation. My study also contributed to completing a PhD thesis with the University of South Australia. I have structured the chapter as follows: I have started with a description of the context for my study and the reasons why the problem addressed in the study was important to the organisation where it was carried out, to me, and to the six managers reporting to me who became my co-researchers in the study. I will explain why I selected the action research model that I used it in my study. I will then introduce my Australian doctoral supervisors, the Singaporean managers who were involved as co-researchers as well three other Singaporean managers, who were also doctoral candidates and who were being supervised by the same supervisors, with whom I formed an action learning set during the study. The role played by a virtual action learning set that I formed with an international group of action researchers will also be explained. I will then describe the setting which was a Japanese company, where the study took place. This will be followed by a description of the research carried out. I will follow this up with insights from my study. I will close the chapter with a reflection on how my study could have been done differently as I have now gained experience as an academic and supervisor of doctoral students who are using action research. The AR study described in this chapter was carried out in a large engineering centre of a Japanese multinational company in Singapore, which wanted to reduce its cost of operations significantly for the organisation to stay profitable (in fact, survive) while at the same time not sacrificing the quality of its products and services. I was appointed as the head of this centre and wanted to use inno...
Er, M., Pollack, J.B. & Sankaran, S. 2013, 'Actor-Network Theory, Activity Theory and Action Research and their application in project management research' in Drouin, N., Muller, R. & Sankaran, S. (eds), Novel Approaches to Organizational Project Management Research: Translational and Transformational, Copenhagen Business School Press, Copenhagen, pp. 164-198.
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Projects pay attention to activities, deal with relationships and involve change. Hence research approaches that are useful to examine activities or work practices (e.g. Activity Theory), investigate relationships (e.g. Actor-Network Theory) and facilitate change (e.g. Action Research) could be very useful for project management researchers. While some papers in project management (PM) journals report using these approaches we expect that they will become more prevalent in the future due to the recent demand for more emphasis on detailed investigation of what is occurring in real practice and the management of complexity in projects by describing interconnections. Further, realizing intended benefits from projects requires more attention to the change process that is often left out of the scope of managing a project.
Cameron, R. & Sankaran, S. 2013, 'Mixed methods research design: well beyond the notion of triangulation' in Drouin, N., Muller, R. & Sankaran, S. (eds), Novel Approaches to Organizational Project Management Research: Translational and Transformational, Copenhagen Business School Press, Copenhagen, pp. 383-401.
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The aim of this chapter will be to take a detailed exploration of mixed methods research (MMR) designs as an indicator of a movement towards more complex and innovative research designs in which both qualitative and quantitative approaches are combined, integrated, fused and blended. The MMR movement has now developed to a stage where there are over 40 MMR designs and even typologies of typologies. The two-dimensional linear concept of triangulation so often used in pure quantitative mono-methods research or in qualitative research as a measure for validity has become a thing of the past for those utilising MMR. There is also a significant amount of cross-fertilisation between the disciplines within the MMR community with the following disciplines all contributing to methodological advances in MMR design: health, nursing, medicine, business/management, education, engineering and psychology/counselling. The usefulness of conducting MMR in trans-disciplinary teams will become apparent to organizational project management researchers through the discussion of complex and novel MMR designs. MMR is useful when a phenomenon being studied is complex and needs multiple methods to investigate it. MMR has been found useful in a variety of fields and applications including management and organizational research but does not seem to be prominent in project management (PM) research despite the need for investigating better approaches to deal with complexity in projects. The authors of this chapter feel that a discussion about MMR will make a useful contribution to a book promoting translational approaches in PM research by assisting PM researchers to study complex phenomena.
Sankaran, S. & Brown, S.W. 2012, 'Coaching Collaborative Creativity and Innovation: An Action-Based Method for Sustainable Innovation, Learning and Development in Business Organizations' in Zuber-Skerritt, O. (ed), Action Research for Sustainable Development in a Turbulent World, Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., Bingley, UK, pp. 127-150.
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In an increasingly complex global environment, traditional approaches to strategic thinking and problem solving are proving to be inadequate. Design thinking (a process used by designers) and action research/action learning (processes used by managers for organizational change and development) provide some alternative approaches to overcome the inadequacies of traditional approaches to facilitating sustainable innovation. However, both design thinking and action research/action learning each has limitations. This chapter describes how these methodologies can be combined to overcome these limitations to coach managers collaboratively for creating new and better futures for their organizations
Sankaran, S. 2012, 'The project as a socio-cultural system: Investigating humanitarian projects managed by volunteers in not-for-profit organisations' in Linger, H. & Owen, J. (eds), The Project as a Social System: Asia-Pacific Perspectives on Project Management, Monash University Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 36-46.
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Non-profit organisations - also known as the third sector or non-government organisations - are playing an increasing role in the political, social and economic spheres of many countries around the world including Australia. This paper will usc the acronym NGO to refer to such organisations. Over the last two decades NGOs have become an object of considerable research interest. NGOs are responsible for several projects managed by volunteers, who may not be trained in project management methodologies. Efforts are now being made to help NGOs manage their projects more effectively. Some organisations have been set up in developing countries to help NGOs to be more effective in managing their affairs as they contribute Significantly to the social capital of these countries. A joint project to educate project managers in NGOs has been recently created as a collaborative effort between the Project Management Institute, Learning for International NGOs and several prominent NGOs who are concerned about the effectiveness of projects managed by volunteers in their organisations. However, academic research in the area has been scarce. This paper describes a study being undertaken by all Australian academic on the complexities of projects managed by a voluntary organisation called Rotary Medical Aid for Children.
Sankaran, S. 2009, 'Applying action research to conduct practitioner research in knowledge management' in NA (ed), Enhancing Organisational Capability through Knowledge Management, Southern Cross University Press, Lismore, pp. 23-40.
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Discusses four real doctoral research projects that used action research to investigate knowledge management.
Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2007, 'Action research: Collecting insight and enduring organizational change' in Sankaran, G. & Miller, P. (eds), Exemplary practitioner research in management: ten studies from Southern Cross University's DBA prog, Southern Cross University Press, Lismore, pp. 31-49.
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Wong, P. & Sankaran, S. 2007, 'Critical incidents: Drilling down to core ethical issues' in Sankaran, G. & Miller, P. (eds), Exemplary practitioner research in management: ten studies from Southern Cross University's DBA prog, Southern Cross University Press, Lismore, pp. 191-210.
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Sankaran, S. & Sng, H. 2001, 'An action learning experience to change a work model in Yokogawa: Through a real project' in Sankaran, S., Dick, B., Passfield, R. & Swepson, P. (eds), Effective Change Management Using Action Learning and Action Research, Southern Cross University Press, Lismore, Australia, pp. 259-268.
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Agarwal, U.A., Dixit, V., Jain, K., Sankaran, S., Nikolova, N., Müller, R. & Drouin, N. 2017, 'Exploring vertical and horizontal leadership in projects: A comparison of Indian and Australian', Accelerating Development: Harnessing the Power of Project Management, PMI India Research & Academic Conference, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, pp. 165-177.
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Project-based organisational forms are becoming more and more prevalent in many industries, and leadership influences projects' success ultimately impacting the organisational performance. Two types of leadership styles have been explored: vertical and horizontal. This study aims to identify the nature and balance of vertical and horizontal leadership in projects to allow project managers to consciously poly these approaches in different situations. A case study-based approach is adopted wherein, two case studies from India and three case studies from Australia are included . A comparative study of leadership styles is performed to find the best contextual fit for leadership styles. The findings reveal that that national cultural is not a major factor in influencing project leadership. Rather, organisational culture and a shared understanding on leadership practices is what influences whether vertical or horizontal leadership will be more prevalent. Senior leaders' initiatives to create and support a culture of sharing ideasand decisions, backed by project manager's approach enable effective balance between horizontal and vertical leadership. Horizontal leadership is further by regular meetings and social interactions. Prevalence of horizontal leaderships is demonstrated in technical decisions, as team members have the best expertise to address technical issues. In contrast, strategic decisions are normally discussed with the project manager and often escalated to senior leaders for decisions.
Devkar, G., Sankaran, S. & Ke, Y. 2017, 'Evaluation of PPP projects in Australia and India: An Information Asymmetry Perspective', Accelerating Development: Harnessing the Power of Project Management, PMI India Research & Academic Conference, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, pp. 225-234.
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Public private Partnership (PPP) model has been widely used for infrastructure delivery across the globe. However, the practice of PPP indicates mixed results, showing on the one hand, much hyped and glorified success on model PPP projects, while on the other hand failed and jinxed PPP projects also exist. This scenario stresses the need to identify and analyse the reasons behind the divergence of the PPP model from its much expected theoretical benefits. In this context, a research study was undertaken evaluate failed PPP transportation projects in Australia and India with the primary focus to understand why these projects failed to attain the expected theoretical benefits. In this paper, we evaluated six PPP projects through the theoretical lens of "information symmetry" – as provided by principal agent theory. We adopted the qualitative research methodology for this study involving collection and analysis of secondary data pertaining to these PPP projects. the findings show that the information asymmetry during the procurement stage of PP projects manifests into problems like adverse selection, total hazard and hold up. These problems are very evident at the procurement stage but have been neglected and sidelined by the government, financiers and decision makers. We conclude this paper with various propositions that have to be verified with further in-depth research procedure.
Biesenthal, C.E. & Sankaran, S. 2016, 'The pragmatic nature of governance in megaprojects', The International Research Network on Organizing by Projects (IRNOP), The Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management, London, UK.
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Megaprojects are an increasing species of projects, often used to transform the face of suburbs, cities or entire regions. One challenge of megaproject is the high number of stakeholders that have different – often conflicting – agendas and objectives, something which amplifies the inherent technical complexity of such large undertakings. Project governance is a concept that helps to align different objectives and is thus an important factor to delivering megaproject successfully. This paper introduces a pragmatic model of governance in megaprojects, which is based on democratic principles that promotes collaboration of all stakeholders to develop working, context-dependent practices to manage megaprojects successfully.
Drouin, N., Sankaran, S. & Muller, R. 2016, 'The nature of organizational project management and its role as an organizational capability', Manageable Cooperation?, EURAM, Paris.
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Organizational project management (OPM) is the integration of all project management-related activities throughout the organizational hierarchy or network. This paper is a first attempt to show that OPM could be a capability that integrates, combines and embeds project management activities strategically and effectively within the organization. Discussions on the nature of OPM and its role as a capability are grounded in organization theory and the literature on capabilities for effectiveness. This theoretical paper highlights the role of OPM as a capability, an organizational attribute that fosters organizational effectiveness through horizontal and vertical integration of diverse project-related activities. Using the analogy of a car to explain the nature of OPM and the role of OPM capability, one can say that OPM is the self-powered vehicle while OPM as a capability has the role to take people from A to B effectively.
Muller, R., Nikolova, N., Sankaran, S., Hase, S., Zhu, F., Xu, X., Vaagaasar, A.L. & Drouin, N. 2016, 'Leading projects by balancing vertical and horizontal leadership – International case studies', Manageable Cooperation?, EURAM, Paris.
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Leadership has become a central theme in the project management literature. Two major streams of research have emerged in studies on project leadership: the person-centered or vertical leadership stream, which focuses on the leadership role and skills of project managers; and the team-centered or horizontal leadership stream, which recognizes the distributed form of leadership in projects. Previous research in project leadership has focused mostly on vertical leadership while in recent studies horizontal leadership has begun to emerge as an important area. While some view these two forms of leadership as separate, in reality, projects have to include both forms of leadership simultaneously. Studies on new product development teams have shown that horizontal leadership supplements, but does not replace, vertical leadership. We investigate the interrelationship between vertical and horizontal leadership in projects and argue that projects are characterized by vertical leadership which provides a socio-cognitive space in form of structures, processes and shared frameworks that enable the team to engage in horizontal leadership. Based on a study of projects in different organizational contexts in Australia and China, we provide insights about the characteristics of these socio-cognitive spaces and how they contribute to a balance between vertical and horizontal leadership in project management.
Turner, R., Er, M., Sankaran, S. & Lecoeuvre, L. 2016, 'Marketing for the project: Project marketing by the contractor', Manageable Cooperation?, EURAM, Paris.
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Three types of organization are involved in project marketing: the project itself; the investor; and the contractor. In this paper we explore marketing practices adopted by contractors in projectbased industries. We have interviewed eight such contractors, and used Activity Theory as a lens to analyse our results. We investigated project marketing activities at four stages of the project contract life-cycle, and against four enablers of cooperation. We have identified that the servicedominant logic pervades project marketing. Through the project contract life-cycle the marketing activity starts strategic, becomes tactical, then operational and returns to strategic. Project marketing involves executive managers, marketing, client or account managers, and project managers. Project managers have a key responsibility for project marketing. The four enablers of cooperation, relationships, communication, collaboration and trust, support each other, and the entire project marketing activity. Key words: Project marketing; contractors, project-based industries, project contract life-cycle, relationship, communication, collaboration, trust.
Syed, G.A. & Sankaran, S. 2016, 'Experiencing social complexity in projects as 'tipping points'', Project Management for Achieving Change, Second Danish Project Management Research conference (DAPMARC-2), Roskilde University Press, Denmark, pp. 59-83.
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This paper reports on the use of 'Tipping Points' to study social complexity as experienced by project participants because of intensive human interaction. It is part of a doctoral study which proposed an interpretive framework to study complexity in IT projects using lenses context, cohesion, coupling and adaptive response. The study was conducted in one of the largest telecommunications industry in Australia. The study has shown that there are certain situations in which the social complexity is experienced vividly during projects. Such situations are traced, tagged and analysed in the study. These atypical situations in which the social complexity is well pronounced are referred as 'Tipping Points". This paper illustrates the use of 'Tipping Point" situations in a single case project to trace social complexity in IT projects.
Shalbafan, S., Leigh, E., Pollack, J. & Sankaran, S. 2016, 'Using simulation to study decision-making in project portfolio management', Project management for achieving change, Second Danish Project Management Research Conference (DAPMARC-2), Roskilde University Press, Copenhagen, pp. 131-150.
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This project reports how an emerging awareness of the complexity of project portfolio management (PPM) led t development of a role-play simulation for assessing different means of identifying and reflecting on factors influencing the quality of decision making in stressful PPm situations. Recognition of the inability to access reliable data from within organisations resulted in the development of an open and chaordic (Waldrop, 1996) simulation that replicates aspects of the decision-making processes commonly encountered in such complicated and complex conditions. The paper describes the Action LEarning process used to develop this simulation. The contribution of this project to the field of project portfolio management therefore spans both the development of a specific simulation strategy as a research methodology and analysis of issues relating to factors adversely affecting decision-making capacity in times of stress.
Forsythe, P., Sankaran, S., Subramanyan, H. & Biesenthal 2015, 'The role of BIM in reducing information asymmetry in construction projects', Project Management Excellence: Education, Research and Practice, PMI India Project Management Research & Academic Conference, PMI Organization Centre, Mumbai, India, pp. 115-125.
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The purpose of this paper is to determine the impact of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on Information Asymmetry (IA) in construction projects. Further, the focus is also on a comparative analysis of the extent to which firms in Australia and India are looking at BIM as a solution to IA in construction projects. IA is a common concern in contracting relationships during the procurement of construction projects. While the agent (contractor) opportunistically takes advantage of the Principal (Client), the Principal is continually exploring the best means of managing information on projects. The question that needs to be answered is: To what extent in real-time scenarios, can BIM help reduce the imbalance in information between the two contracting parties? Principal agency theory proposes three issues due to IA including: Adverse Selection, Moral Hazard and Hold Up which are all typical ways in which an information imbalance can be used opportunistically to exploit the Principal. This paper discusses the manifestation of IA in construction procurement and project delivery, the impact of contractual controls commonly used to manage IA, and the potential of BIM to control IA. Contractor, Developer and consultants in India and Australia were interviewed and their responses are presented in the paper. Among the three areas of IA, respondents were of the opinion that BIM can help to a greater extent in overcoming Hold Up and Moral Hazards. While clients in the Australian context are keener and oriented towards BIM implementation, clients in India do not insist on BIM except where large developers are involved. In other words, the level of penetration of BIM in the Indian context is comparatively low. Surprisingly, while the contractors in Australia do not see significant benefits from adopting BIM, many contracting firms in India have gone ahead with BIM as they consider that it can provide a better protection under material variation. While developing high technica...
Ang, K.C., Killen, C.P. & Sankaran, S. 2015, 'Value constructs in multi-stakeholder environments that influence project portfolio decision making', Euram'15 Uncertainty is a great opportunity - Programme Book and E-proceedings, 15th Annual Conference of the European Academy of Management (Euram) Conference 2015, European Academy of Management, Warsaw, Poland.
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Abstract: A key goal for project portfolio management (PPM) is to maximize strategic value across the portfolio. In certain industries, particularly in the context of non-commercial sectors, the 'value' generated by the portfolio may not always fit with typical PPM frameworks that emphasize financial value. Furthermore project and portfolio 'value' are complex phenomena due to the multiple and sometimes contradicting expectations demanded by multiple stakeholders that participate in and influence the ways that PPM decisions incorporate value. This paper draws on organization, business, stakeholder and project management literature to consider different perspectives of value, and integrates stakeholder theory and sensemaking in its investigation of value in multi-stakeholder portfolio environments. It highlights the key question 'Value for whom, value by whom' and proposes that multiple case-studies of a diverse sample of project-based organizations would be useful to address this question. A Hybrid Delphi study using expert panels is also proposed to triangulate the findings. Keywords: project portfolio management, value, stakeholders, sensemaking, decision making
Ang, K.C.S., Killen, C.P. & Sankaran, S. 2015, 'Unanticipated value creation: Sensemaking and the value spectrum in partnership projects', Proceedings of IRNOP 2015, International Research Network on Organising by Projects, IRNOP 2015, International Research Network on Organising by Projects, International Research Network on Organizing by Projects (IRNOP), London, UK.
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This paper explores the dimensions of value across a partnership project (that requires collaboration from two or more organisations), and highlights how unanticipated values from a project can add value to the overall portfolio. Insights into the complexities of defining and managing value derive from a study investigating managerial decisions to persist with a partnership project despite indications of possible failure, and how value was ultimately created. The study highlights a variety of valuable outcomes from project and portfolio activities. Sensemaking processes are illustrated and a value spectrum model is presented to provide guidance for portfolio decision makers involved in partnership projects.
Killen, C.P., Clegg, S., Biesenthal, C. & Sankaran, S. 2015, 'Time to make space for practice-based research in project portfolio management', Asia Pacific Researchers in Organisational Studies (APROS) / European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS), Sydney, Australia.
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Practice-based research is extending understanding in the disciplines of strategy and project management, in part as a result of strong advocacy of research from 'strategy-as-practice' and 'projects-as-practice' perspectives. Such perspectives provide holistic contextual information and reveal the evolutionary and responsive nature of project and strategy processes. As environments shift and become more complex, dynamic capabilities are required for projects to flourish. Normative project management approaches are being challenged and practice-based project portfolio management (PPM) research is emerging. Increasingly, PPM defines the space between strategy and project management, with a key project focus on temporality. There is a need for further development and encouragement of practice-based approaches in PPM research that are alert to the becoming of projects as spatial manifestations that unfold in (different conceptions of) time. We identify three themes in project and portfolio management research that employ practice-based and strategically anchored perspectives. We illustrate the trajectory of early work on strategy and the front end of projects through to the development and application of increasingly sophisticated theoretical perspectives in project portfolio management (PPM) research. The dynamic capabilities perspective is shown to provide a strong theoretical foundation for investigating PPM and its role in implementing and informing strategy through projects. Theoretically grounded and practice-based research represents the interplay between structure and practice, with these reciprocally and recursively shaping each other over time. Building on these examples we call for practice-based research in PPM, and we suggest a convergence of strategy-as-practice perspectives and practice-based PPM research.
Shalbafan, S., Leigh, E., Pollack, J. & Sankaran, S. 2015, 'Using simulation to create a time-bound, space-constrained context for studying decision-making in project portfolio management using the Cynefin® framework', APROS EGOS 2015, UTS, Sydney.
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Muller, R., Sankaran, S., Drouin, N., Nikolova, N. & Vaagasaar, A.L. 2015, 'The socio-cognitive space for linking horizontal and vertical leadership', APROS EGOS 2015, Sydney.
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Scales, J., Sankaran, S. & Cameron, R. 2015, 'Is the project management field suffering from methodological inertia? Looking for evidence in publications in a recently established journal', Procedings of EURAM 2015 (European Academy of Management) Conference., European Academy of Management, .EURAM, Warsaw, pp. 1-18.
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Project management (PM) researchers have traditionally used quantitative methods in their research due to the origins of this practice-based discipline in defence and engineering. Although qualitative methods are starting to be used in PM research, most of the qualitative research reported tends to use case studies. Recently, there has been a call for PM researchers to use more novel methods to increase the variety of methods used by the researcher in the field contributing to its further development (Drouin, Muller and Sankaran 2013; Cameron, Sankaran and Scales 2015). A review of papers presented at the International Research Network on Organizing by Projects (IRNOP) conference in Berlin in 2009 showed a surprising trend that papers presented at these conferences used more qualitative methods in comparison with articles published in key PM journals. This paper analyses articles published over the past six years in a comparatively new PM journal, since its inception, to explore whether the new journal has motivated PM researchers to overcome their methodological inertia and broaden the variety of research methods they use. A mixed methods prevalence study was undertaken on articles published in the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business (IJMPiB) from 2008 to 2014 (n=265). The findings point to methodological inertia in the majority of research but also an unusually high proportion of the use of mixed methods. Future research is needed to add finer granularity to the analysis.
Sankaran, S., FeldBrugge, K. & Pasian, B. 2015, 'Coverage of 'Human Factors' in project management literature', ISSS 59th Meeting, ISSS, Berlin.
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Dick, B., Sankaran, S., Shaw, K., Kelly, J., Soar, J., Davies, A. & Banbury, A. 2014, 'Action Research as Metamethodology: Managing the Complexity of an applied research project', EURAM2014, 14th Annual Conference of the European Academy of Management, European Academy of Management, Valencia, Spain, pp. 1-25.
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A large applied research study is a challenging exercise in project management, often unpredictable because of its complexity. At the beginning, funding bodies, ethics committees and participating organizations expect a plan of what is intended. As the research evolves, researchers must meet the expectations of stakeholders while being responsive to the emergent reality that the research faces and partly uncovers. This paper describes action research used as an umbrella process - a metamethodology - under which these contrasting demands can be satisfied. In particular, two characteristics enable action research to do so. One is its cyclic process, iteratively tracing out a rhythm of planning, acting, and observing the results. The other is the nesting of its cycles, applied at scales ranging from the overall study to the moment-by-moment facilitation. We illustrate this use of action research with examples from a lengthy applied study of leadership in faith-based not-for-profit organizations.
Gandhi, S., Sankaran, S., Er, M., Orr, K. & Khabbaz, H. 2014, 'Developing Technology-assisted multi-disciplinary learning strategies', The 31st International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction and Mining (ISARC 2014), Sydney, pp. 346-353.
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The construction industry is multi-disciplinary and collaborative in nature. Project managers are expected to understand the relations, roles and responsibilities in this collaborative working environment. Construction project managers need to be equipped with skills to process and understand the principles of interdisciplinary working. In order to keep pace with industry requirements, it is necessary for universities to teach subjects in tertiary education courses that educate and motivate construction students towards interdisciplinary working. This paper is based on a research project aimed at understanding opportunities and challenges for introducing subjects that require students from different disciplines to work together on an integrated project. In order to teach interdisciplinary working principles to project management students, a new post-graduate subject, Integrated Project Delivery, was introduced in the Master of Project Management at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as part of a construction sub-major. The subject was designed and teaching materials prepared based on inputs from architecture, engineering and construction management academics. In the teaching of the subject, interdisciplinary student teams were formed based on educational background and professional experience. An (pedagogical) action research approach was adopted to study the challenges and benefits of new ways of learning in line with the UTS learning strategies being adopted by academics. The main finding of this research concluded that project- based learning is very valuable to both students and industry alike as it promotes working on a live project enthusiastically and gaining industry experience in new ways of working adopted by industry. Working in multi-disciplinary teams requires students to respect the other team participants from different backgrounds, inculcating values of team spirit and discouraging adversarial behaviours. Furthermore ...
Forsythe, P.J. & Sankaran, S. 2013, 'Information Asymmetry and the Promise of Building Information Modelling', Proceedings of the PMI India Research and Academic Conference 2013, PMI India Academic and Research Conference, PMI India, Chennai, India, pp. 1-8.
Building Information Modelling is gaining momentum around the world as a technology capable of enabling higher levels of integration in the delivery of building projects. The concept involves an intelligent 3-D model of the building. In its application, different design disciplines are now well equipped to collaboratively produce a harmonious and well resolved master design. Additional features such as cost, production work flow and facilities management information - linked to the 3-D model - allow the likes of construction contractors and property managers to communicate using the same visually driven language. Now more than previously, there is the prospect of a visually linked kit of information, and subsequently a common means of communicating, analysing and cross-referencing complex information. In the past, the lack of ability to do this has effectively created a degree of information asymmetry within various parts of the supply chain and between contracting parties. This is especially the case where technical information is concerned and it can be argued that the client in particular has been disadvantaged (where lacking technical experience) because they are less able to offer informed input. Their problem is simply that this lack of ability to provide informed input, can effectively limit the ability of the client to be involved in making informed decisions about their project. Hence they lose a degree of control concerning cost and value-based decisions. This paper quite simply explores whether the promise of building information modelling will open up the prospect of greater and more equal access to information that will benefit clients - especially in terms of the concept of information asymmetry. It also considers the practicalities of implementing the building information technology itself. For instance, the practicalities of implementing any new information technology solution can pose its own impediments and asymmetries in delivering on ...
Sankaran, S., Drouin, N. & Muller, R. 2013, 'The Need for Using New Research Approaches in Project Management', Proceedings of the PMI India Research and Academic Conference 2013, PMI India Research & Academic Conference, PMI India, Chennai, India, pp. 1-8.
In the past two decades, the field of project management has expanded its focus from the study of a single project to the way an organization uses projects to achieve its strategic goals. Consequently, Organizational Project Management (OPM) has emerged as an academic field in its own right, which encompasses project, program and portfolio management and how they contribute to realising organizational strategies. Moreover, project management research has often been criticised for not paying enough attention to the philosophical underpinnings of research methods used. Thus there is an urgent need for new approaches to project management research as well as improving the way in which it is being reported to increase its credibility and rigour. Project management researchers should also become familiar with research approaches used in allied disciplines to make use of contemporary methods employed in fields such as strategy, economics, marketing, sociology, psychology and organizational studies. Traditionally project management researchers have tended to use surveys and case studies as their main methods. There is a need to look at using new methods to link theory and practice such as reflexive methodologies and dialectical approaches. This paper will analyse a sample of published papers to examine the trends in project management research over the past ten years and appeal to project management researchers to consider using transformational and translational approaches in conducting their research. It will then explain the basis for selecting the topics included in a new edited book being published by the authors to promote novel approaches in OPM research. The paper will also discuss a few of these approaches and their applications in project management research to show how the proposed approaches can enhance the richness of project management research.
Sankaran, S., Illingworth, B., Shaw, K., Dick, B., Davies, A. & Cartwright, C. 2013, 'Using Delphi as a democratic research method facilitating involvement to investigate leadership capability development in Australia', -, EURAM 2013: 13th Annual Conference of the European Academy of Management, EURAM, Istanbul, pp. 1-31.
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This paper will demonstrate how a Delphi Survey was used democratically in a study to investigate leadership development in faith-based not-for-profit organisations providing aged and community care in Australia. We use the term `democratically' in this context to indicate the degree of independence and equality afforded by the Delphi to participants. The key characteristics of good leadership were derived from a Delphi survey of managers from two organisations involved in the research who will be affected by leadership development activities to be pursued by these two organisations. The research being described is an Australian Research Council funded research project of national importance contributing to the wellbeing of older Australians receiving services from the aged and community care sector. The investigators involved in this research used action research as a meta-methodology to conceive the Delphi process using an open systems approach. The Delphi process was facilitated by an experienced researcher who has been an advocate of open systems and democratic approaches to management for the last forty years in Australia. The paper will cover some general aspects of the Delphi method but will focus on the Delphi method used in the research project. It is hoped that this paper will be of benefit to participants in the research and research methods SIG at EURAM 2013 as it explains both the Delphi method together with a real application.
Sankaran, S., Soar, J., Shaw, K. & Dick, B. 2012, 'Investigating leadership development of faith-based not-for- profit organizations providing aged and community care in Australia', EURAM 12th Annual Conference 2012, EURAM 12th Annual Conference 2012, EURAM, Rotterdam.
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This paper reports on research in progress that is aimed at strengthening the leadership capacity amongst NFP (not-for-profit) providers in Australias aged and community care sector. The research started in 2010 and is now in its final stages. The paper presents the background to the research including issues of leadership development in NFP organisations.
Sankaran, S., Cameron, R. & Scales, J. 2012, 'The utility and quality of mixed methods in Project Management Research', EURAM 12th Annual Conference 2012, EURAM 12th Annual Conference 2012, EURAM, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.
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Mixed methods research is being touted as the third methodological movement which is characterised by a growing body of theoretical and methodological frameworks and a body of cross disciplinary literature. Prominent mixed methodologists/authorities have championed the movement, which has strong footholds in the fields of education, health and nursing, and the social and behavioural sciences. The establishment of mixed method specific journals, research texts and courses and a growth in popularity among research funding bodies all indicate the growing trend in the adoption of mixed methods. Mixed methods research is being used and reported within business and management fields, despite the positivist traditions attached to certain business and management disciplines. This paper has used a retrospective content analysis of journal articles from three ranked journals from the field of project management: International Journal of Project Management (IJPM), the Project Management Journal (PMJ) and the IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management (IEEE_TEM). The aim of the study is to determine the prevalence rates of mixed methods in project management and to investigate the quality of mixed methods research within this field. Implications for further research are discussed, along with some guidelines to justify and describe how mixed methods have been used in project management research papers.
Muller, R., Andersen, E., Kvalnes, O., Shao, J., Sankaran, S., Turner, R., Biesenthal, C.E., Walker, D. & Gudergan, S. 2012, 'The interrelationship of governance, trust and ethics in temporary organizations', PMI Education and Research Conference 2012, PMI Education and Reseearch Conference, PMI, Limerick, Ireland, pp. 1-26.
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This paper addresses the variety of ethical decisions that managers in temporary organizations must make. The study investigates how these decisions are influenced by the governance structures of the organizations that provide the framework for governance of temporary organizations such as projects. The governance of these temporary organizations provides a basis for ethical decision-making. One of the links between governance and ethical decision-making is trust. This study investigates the roles of personal trust and system trust as a mechanism to steering ethical decision-making in different governance settings for temporary organizations. Nine case studies were conducted in Europe, Asia, and Australia. The results of this qualitative study show that ethical decision-making is contingent on trust, which, in turn, is contingent on the fulfillment of personal expectations within a given governance structure. The study provides a related model and a number of propositions. The findings are important for project managers as well as project sponsors and other governance institutions for temporary organizations, because they show the prerequisites for ethical decision-making and the consequences of lack of trust. Additional managerial and theoretical implications are discussed.
Sankaran, S., Dick, B., Shaw, K., Cartwright, C., Davies, A. & Illingworth, B. 2012, 'Scenario planning and analysis in practice: Investigating leadership development using action research in faith-based not-for-profit organisations in Australia', EURAM 12th Annual Conference 2012, EURAM 12th Annual Conference 2012, EURAM, Rotterdam.
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This paper reports on research in progress that is aimed at strengthening leadership capacity in Australias rapidly changing aged and community care sector. The research was supported by an Australian Research Council grant and involved three Australian Universities and two major faith-based not-for-profit organisations providing aged and community care. The approach involved scenario-based workshops which were used in practice in organisational research for leadership development. Two sets of workshops served different purposes the first to identify possible futures (scenario planning) and the second to deal with scenarios (scenario analysis). The paper contains a brief review of scenario planning and the differing needs of leadership in the not-for-profit sector under investigation. The processes used in both workshops are described along with data collected and analysed. A brief review of practice theory (applying action research) follows. Data collected and analysed and reflections on the use of scenarios are presented with some conclusions.
Sankaran, S. & Agarwal, R. 2012, 'Rethinking project management goals and methods to suit service systems', Proceedings of the 56th Annual Meeting of the ISSS, ISSS 2012, ISSS, San Jose, CA, USA, pp. 1-14.
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Industrial economies of the past are now moving towards becoming service-intensive, creative and knowledge-based economies that incorporate human creativity and social capital as the basis of value creation and productivity improvements. Moreover, they are radically transforming the manner in which they design, deliver and operate, thereby creating new services and market opportunities. Further, the fact that services are varied, have unique attributes such as intangibility, heterogeneity, perishability, and inseparability (simultaneous consumption and delivery) with the customer as a provider of input, make them complex in nature and difficult to understand and analyse. This has inspired a flurry of activity in government, industry and universities. There is now a growing recognition of the need for transdisciplinary research and new business models to propel innovation in services, commonly referred to as Services Science an interdisciplinary cross-functional stream that brings together engineering, social sciences and management. In addition, business success is becoming less associated with tangible outcomes, embedded value and physical transactions, but more reliant on intangible resources, relationships, networks and co-creation of value. In the unfolding global economy, supply chains and value networks play a crucial role, and service organisations have to find innovative ways for attaining sustainable competitive advantage. Beyond this direct economic contribution, service industries have an ongoing role to deliver considerable indirect embodied value to goods production.
Peric, A., Sankaran, S. & Twyford, J.W. 2011, 'Successful IT projects and their impact on operations in organisations: A research case study', Proceedings of the PMI India Research and Academic Conference, PMI India Research & Academic Conference on Project Management, Project Management Institute India, Pune, India, pp. 1-15.
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Project success remains one of the favorite and most researched topics of the project management discipline. This article relates to the use of case study methods in recent doctoral research that focused on extending the project success evaluation criteria beyond 'usual' project objectives (budget, deliverables, timeline) to include evaluation of impacts created by projects, such as: alignment with strategy, solution efficiency, ongoing maintainability and associated post-implementation cost. Most of these factors are often neglected and excluded from project evaluation and strategic alignment processes. The goal of this study was to find ways to increase the overall benefits to organisations achieved through projects, while minimising unplanned and unforeseen negative impacts. The use of case study in this research facilitated the extension of the theoretical study of project management to a commercial environment - by investigating a specific problem related to practical applications of project management.
Sankaran, S. 2011, 'Leadership Theories and Stories: An Open-Space Exploration', Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ISSS, 55th Meeting of the International Society for the System Sciences, International Society for the System Sciences, Hull, UK, pp. 1-10.
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Members of ISSS are being invited to participate in an interactive workshop to be held at the 55th ISSS Meeting being held at the University of Hull, UK in August 2011 to explore four emerging Western leadership theories - authentic leadership, servant leadership, spiritual leadership and relational leadership with stories and narratives from non-Western cultures to build connections between these traditions. The workshop will be facilitated using an Open Space Technology Meeting format to initiate dialogue between participants to explore these connections and move from passion to action. The theme for the open space meeting is leadership research in not-for-profit charitable or church-based organizations in which the facilitator is deeply involved. The facilitator will briefly introduce the four leadership theories being discussed. He will then describe the Open Space Technology process and its four principles and one law. Participants will then announce discussion topics at the village marketplace that will be created during the workshop where storytelling is encouraged. Reflection and dialogue will take place in the open space (a circle of chairs with a space within) after these discussions. Summaries of discussions held at the marketplace will be collected and posted to all participants after the workshop. This is the first of a series of similar workshops that are being planned. The workshop at Hull will be followed by a similar workshop at an action research conference in Brisbane, Australia in September 2011 and a workshop being planned in the US in October 2011. The themes captured from these workshops will form the basis of a paper to be published in the Proceeding of the 55th ISSS meeting in 2012.
Pasian, B., Sankaran, S. & Boydell, S. 2011, 'Factors for designing a second generation of project management maturity models', PMI Global Congress 2011 - North America Proceedings, PMI Global Congress 2011 (Dallas), Project Management Institute, Dallas, USA, pp. 1-16.
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This research explores the dynamics of a reliable project management capability responsible for undefined projects, and proposes new factors that could influence how project management maturity is determined and modeled. It demonstrates that unique processes and practicesâthat are not tightly controlled, repeatable and predictableâcan contribute to the reliable management of e-Learning projects in a university environment. A multimethod research design is used with textual analysis of maturity models and a case study of university environments. Results indicate multiple processes and practices that enable this capability in ways that do not fit the current view of project management maturity. Context-specific values, specialized bodies of knowledge (instructional design), customer involvement, third-party influence, and tacit factors such as trust and creativity are amongst these factors. A clear path emerges of an alternative route to project management maturity.
Sankaran, S., Gardiner, G. & Sankaran, G. 2011, 'Save me time: Make me famous', Proceedings of the New Horizons for Editing and Publishing Conference, Society of Editors, Sydney, pp. 1-12.
Journals, conference proceedings and books are freely available online to readers worldwide via the new open access approach to scholarly publishing. Seen as a threat by commercial publishers, especially the high-cost STM (scientific, technical and medical) journal publishers, open access has grown apace over the past decade with many journals developing high status. UTSePress is an initiative of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and is the leading Australasian publisher of online, open access, peer-reviewed journals, with 14 titles being currently published. It is managed by UTS library staff, using software developed by the Public Knowledge Project, and its journals are edited by academics at UTS and elsewhere. The journals cover a diverse range of disciplines, including governance, ICT (information and communications technology), international studies, history, law, literacy, project management, construction and engineering, and society and social justice. Editorial boards, authors and reviewers are drawn from the respective scholarly fields internationally. This paper will explore the pros and cons of open access online publishing, covering issues such as new business models and their implications for authors, editors and readers. The paper draws on the expertise and experience of the journal managers and editors, as well as the library staff managing the project. It will broadly explore the issues faced by all the UTSePress journals and also provide a case study focusing on one of the newest journals, the Journal of Project, Program and Portfolio Management.
Garfein, S.J. & Sankaran, S. 2011, 'Work Preferences of Project and Program Managers, Change Managers and Project Team Members: The Importance of Knowing the Difference', Proceedings of the PMI North American Congress Dallas 2011, PMI North American Congress 2011, Project Management Instiute, Dallas, USA, pp. 1-19.
Overview. This paper outlines a process using the Work Preference Indicator (Gilbert, Sohi & McEachern, 2008) to help identify potential organizational change managers, project managers and team members. Purpose. Improve the probability of successful outcomes of programs and projects requiring significant organizational change. Content: 1) Portfolio management and best practices; 2) Work Preference Indicator dimensions; 3) Selection of project managers and change managers; 4) Case studies in the identification of organizational change managers. Conclusions: (1) It is frequently the case that the implementation of strategic initiatives involves significant organizational change; (2) The adoption of best practices almost always involves significant organizational change; (3) The Work Preference Indicator can be used to improve program and project success through the identification of organizational change managers, project managers and team members whose work preferences are aligned with their roles in initiatives requiring significant organizational change.
Sankaran, S. 2011, 'Applying Soft Systems and Action Research in Project Management Research', PMI India Research and Academic Conference, Pune, India.
There is an increasing demand to conduct research in project management connecting theory and practice. Conducting research in a predominantly practice-based discipline is not easy and fraught with many challenges. Conventional research methodologies promoted in academia often pose issues for practice-based researchers when the problems being investigated are fuzzy and complex and require sense-making processes at the start to identify the real problem being investigated. There is also a need for a flexible research methodology to cope with changes in the situation while the research is being conducted. This talk will introduce two research methodologies - action research and soft systems methodology that are emergent, responsive and collaborative in conducting practice-based research addressing real world problematical situations. Two real examples of applying these methodologies in doctoral research by practitioners will also be explained and discussed. Further references will be provided to assist researchers. Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is an approach for tackling problematical, messy situations of all kinds. It is an action-oriented process of inquiry into problematic situations in which users (usually practitioners) learn their way from finding out about the situation, to taking action to improve it. (Checkland and Poulter 2006:191) Action Research (AR) pursues both action (change) and research (understanding). It incorporates critical reflection on the action to gain better understanding, which results in more informed action. (Dick 2001) SSM and AR both help in addressing ill structured problems faced by managers in collaboration with stakeholders using questioning and reflection. Soft systems methodology and action research have similarities in their approach as well as some differences. SSM uses a more structured approach while AR is emergent in its application. (Sankaran, Tay & Orr 2009).
Illingworth, B., Sankaran, S., Keogh, J. & Shaw, K. 2011, 'Leadership development in a faith-based non-profit organisation using a relational leadership model: A case study', Proceedings of the International Faith and Spirit Conference, International Faith and Spirit Conference, Tyson Centre for Faith and Spirituality at the Workplace, Fayetteville, USA, pp. 1-13.
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This paper describes a case study of a Leadership Development Program (LDP) which has been developed and conducted at a large faith-based non-profit organization providing aged and community care in Australia. Walter Wright's Relational Leadership model which used insights from Jude, Philemon and Colossians was adopted by the organization. Started as a pilot in 2003 the LDP was implemented in 2007 and has been run regularly since then. The LDP was systematically evaluated by an independent researcher recently. The evaluation concluded that the program has been effective and recommended that it continue with some minor modifications. The organization in which this program was developed is a partner in an Australian Research Council (ARC) linkage grant started in 2010 between three universities and two faith-based non-profit organizations providing aged care and community care. This paper has been written by four researchers involved in the linkage grant. Four interviews on participants in the LDP were conducted by the authors to evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership program in order to prepare this paper. The study was carried out to clarify the research aim for the principal author (who is a PhD student in the ARC grant) by trying to understand what the LDP program was aiming to achieve and to be presented at the Spirituality at Work conference at the University of Arkansas.
Killen, C.P., Levin, G., Kwak, Y.H. & Sankaran, S. 2010, 'Project Portfolio Management (PPM) - Strategic and Operational Agility Through Projects', PMI® Research & Education Conference 2010: Defining the Future of Project Management, Defining the Future of Project Management - Research & Education Conference 2010, Project Management Institute (PMI), Washington D.C., USA, pp. 1-1.
Sankaran, S., Abeysuriya, K., Gray, J. & Kachenko, A. 2010, 'Closing the loop: A systems thinking led sustainable sanitation project in Australia', Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS, Meeting of the International Society for the System Sciences, International Society for the System Sciences, Waterloo, Canada, pp. 1-13.
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This paper will explain a research project being carried out in Sydney, Australia at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) highlighting the systems thinking principles and action research methodology being adopted in this project. UTS is set to participate in an Australia-first research project, led by the Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF), exploring the use of innovative urine diverting toilets in an institutional setting. A UTS Challenge Grant (an internal grant scheme to promote innovative collaborative research) has been awarded to the project which will enable safe nutrient capture and reuse from urine diverting toilets installed on campus for a trial period. The Challenge Grant has some enthusiastic industry partners including the local water utility Sydney Water; the sanitaryware manufacturer CaromaDorf; the Nursery and Garden Industry Association; government partners (NSW Department of Health, and City of Sydney) and the UTS Facilities Management Unit. Researchers from the University of Western Sydney and University of New South Wales in Australia as well as Linkoping University in Sweden are collaborators in this research.
Sankaran, S., Cartwright, C., Kelly, J., Shaw, K. & Soar, J. 2010, 'Leadership of nonprofit organizations in the aged and community care', Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS, Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, International Society for the Systems Sciences, Waterloo, Canada, pp. 1-10.
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This paper will describe an organizational change program being envisaged to be carried out in two non-profit organizations in Australia that are providing health and community care. A pilot project was carried out to secure a research grant from the Australian Federal Government to carry out a three-year research project to strengthen leadership in non-profit organizations providing aged care. The paper will summarize the findings from the pilot project which used systems thinking approaches such as scenario planning. It will also explain an action research approach being adopted to test the leadership framework (developed through the pilot project and confirmed through the main project) in real environments. The research is expected to contribute to theory and practice of leadership in the not-for-profit organizations serving the aged care sector in Australia which is a national priority to be addressed.
Riedy, C. & Sankaran, S. 2010, 'Identifying sustainable futures: Threats to Indian Ocean sustainability and possible responses', Indian Ocean and South Asia Research Network (IOSARN) Conference, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.
Sankaran, S., Haslett, T. & Sheffield, J. 2010, 'Systems Thinking Approaches to Address Complex Issues in Project Management', PMI Global Congress Asia Pacific 2010 Proceedings, Project Management Institute (PMI) Global Congress 2010 - Asia Pacific, Project Management Institute, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 1-9.
Project Management and Systems Thinking overlap. Surprisingly project managers do not seem to use simple systems thinking tools even though these provide unique benefits in framing and solving problems that arise from multiple perspectives and relationships. The purpose of this paper is to introduce selected Systems Thinking concepts and tools and describe their application to the management of complex projects. The benefits of the application of 'hard' and 'soft' systems thinking tools at particular phases the project life-cycle is discussed.
Sankaran, S., Lee, M. & Gottwald, D. 2010, 'Moving beyond the ordinary project management curriculum at the graduate level', PMI Education and Research Conference 2010 Proceedings, PMI Education and Research Conference 2010, Project Management Institute, USA, Washington, DC, pp. 1-17.
PMI® Global Accreditation recognizes the quality of project management graduate level programs. The Global Accreditation Center (GAC) works to improve these degree programs to provide the highest level of academic experience for the learners and ensure that graduates have the tools, techniques, competencies and skills to be top-level project managers. The goal of this panel discussion is to provide a forum introducing ideas to further the advancement of quality graduate level programs.
Sankaran, S. & Kumar, M.R. 2010, 'Implementing organisational change using action research in two Asian cultures', PMI Research and Education Conference 2010, PMI Research and Education Conference, Project Management Institute, Washington DC, USA, pp. 1-26.
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This paper is based on organizational change projects implemented by two managers, the authors of this paper, who used action research in their own organizations for their doctoral studies. Both projects used action learning and action science concepts as a subset of the overall action research intervention, although not explicitly in the second project. One project was carried out to prepare the engineering division of a Japanese multinational company in Singapore to expand its capability to carry out global projects by making large-scale changes in its structure and processes. The other project was carried out in a very large Indian bureaucracy to introduce total quality management in one part of this organization. This paper will first introduce the concepts of action research, action learning, and action science in management research. The two research projects will then be described. This will be followed by the two researchers comparing their projects and reflecting on what changes they would make to the strategies they used in their projects if they were to do this all over again. The paper will conclude with recommendations for project managers who may want to use action research to implement organizational change projects.
Haslett, T. & Sankaran, S. 2009, 'Applying Multi-Methodological System Theory to Project Management', ISSS 2009 Making Liveable Sustainable Systems Unremarkable, Making Liveable Sustainable Systems Unremarkable, ISSS 2009, Brisbane, Ausralia, pp. 1-12.
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This paper begins with the proposition that most project managers are dealing with complex systems. Complex systems are defined as systems with numerous stakeholders, nonlinearities, multiple interdependencies and feedback systems. Typical nonlinearities are often unanticipated changes in the scope of the project, the dismissal of project managers, shedding people with critical labour skills or the termination of credit arrangements with banks. The interdependencies are the relationships between project management, the suppliers and contractors, the clients and the other stakeholders. The feedback systems most common to the success and failure of project management are the rework cycles and their impact on both the demand for labour and the final budget and completion date. The paper outlines a methodology for project management that integrates a number of systems thinking tools into the project management process.
Syed, G. & Sankaran, S. 2009, 'Investigating an interpretive framework to manage complex information technology projects', IRNOP IX, International Research Network on Organizing by Projects, Technische Universitat Berlin, Berlin, Germany, pp. 1-13.
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The aim of this paper is to describe a doctoral study being undertaken by a practising project manager managing a variety of information technology projects in the telecommunications sector in Australia. I feel that the current methods of handling IT projects using normative approaches are ineffective as they do not help to comprehend the reality of the project situations which are emergent and uncertain. I plan to study these projects using four lenses derived from a review of the literature and personal observations to find better ways to deal with the complex nature of these projects. I plan to use an ethnographic approach to explore the complexity of these projects. A control focus group of experienced project managers and academics will be set up to act as a sounding board to review and critique my findings. I have conducted a pilot case study in my organisation and also presented my research proposal for an assessment at the faculty where I am enrolled as a doctoral student and obtained feedback from academics and practitioners. The paper is written collaboratively my principal supervisor who worked as a project manager of large-scale distributed control systems projects in industry for over fifteen years before becoming an academic.
Sankaran, S. 2009, 'Reflective Practice in Improving Doctoral Supervision Skills', E-BLA > conference title and themes'Traversing the marshes: bridging theory and practice in experience-based learning', Traversing the marshes: bridging theory and practice in experience-based learning, UTS, UTS, Sydney, pp. 1-7.
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This paper proposes that doctoral supervisors could benefit by adopting practices used in personal counselling to achieve a balanced student-supervisor relationship. The processes used in counselling a client â such as preparation, getting started, active listening, problem identification and clarification, reframing and challenging, exploring options and facilitating actions, and termination and handling of ethical issues â are also important in the doctoral supervision process. By adopting good practices used in counselling doctoral supervisors could develop effective boundaries with their students, learn to be more assertive, learn to reflect, and increase their own self-awareness and emotional awareness in the supervision process. This is particularly useful when the candidates have taken up doctoral studies at a mature age and are no longer fulltime students at university, but are doing their doctorate part-time while working fulltime and have a family to support as well. Work-life balance issues add stress to these students preventing them from concentrating on their doctoral research. This paper will describe and reflect on the experiences of a doctoral supervisor who attempted to use some of the concepts he had learnt from attending a postgraduate course on counselling to improve his own doctoral supervision work. The paper will conclude with an evaluation of the experiential learning process and close with some suggestions to doctoral supervisors who would like to take a similar journey.
Boydell, S., Watson, N., Mangioni, V., McMillan, M.D. & Sankaran, S. 2009, 'The Republic and its impact on property rights in Sydney', State of Australian Cities (SOAC) Conference, State of Australian Cities Conference, SOAC, Perth, Australia, pp. 1-21.
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In 1973, the Federal Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures identified that `in our modern complex society, an individualistic approach to property rights and land ownership is incompatible with public interest, unless individual rights are restricted to the use and enjoyment of the land (Else-Mitchell et al., 1973, p.17). We offer a theoretical inquiry into the institutional arrangements to enable an innovative land restitution model for Sydney within a new Republic, by vesting the superior interest in land (and buildings thereon) in the stewardship of the customary indigenous guardians (rather than the State or Crown). The model analyses leasehold solutions and land tax implications to ensure the continued economic growth of the City of Sydney under such a restitution arrangement.
Sankaran, S., Remington, K. & Turner, C.R. 2008, 'Relationship between Project Governance and Project Performance: A Multiple Case Study of Shutdown Maintenance Projects in a Maritime Environment', 2008 PMI Global Congress Proceedings, PMI Global Congress Asia Pacific Project Management Conference, Project Management Institute, Sydney, pp. 1-9.
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Wang, C.C. & Sankaran, S. 2008, 'Using IT to Implement a Multifaceted Organizational Learning Model to Enhance Knowledge Management for the Constrution Industry', Proceedings of 12th Int. Conf. on Computing in Civil and Building Engineering & 2008 Int. Conf. On IT in Construction, Computing in Civil Engineering and Building International Conference, Tsinghua University Press, Beijing, China, pp. 154-159.
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Boydell, S., Behrendt, L.Y., Goodall, H., Sankaran, S., Watson, N., Mangioni, V., McMillan, M.D. & McDermott, M.D. 2008, 'Sydney Restored: Aboriginal ownership of city spaces', Cities Nature Justice: Abstracts, Cities Nature Justice: dialogues for social sustainability in public spaces, a UTS Trans/forming cultures symposium, UTS : Trans/forming Cultures, University of Technology, Sydney, pp. 1-1.
Challenge Grant output, presented by Nicole Watson This paper explores an irredentist model of justice in the city, one in which Aboriginal title is taken as the superior property interest over Sydney. It reports on a trans-disciplinary UTS funded research initiative investigating the impact on the institutional landscape of a solution that prioritises the human and property rights of the indigenous population. Methodologically, this research adopts what Creswell and Tashakkori (2007) refer to as a paradigm perspective. The approach integrates an eclectic combination of research modes into history, law, social inquiry, theory, practice, and beliefs, with the attitudes of finance, finance providers, capital users and indigenous property owners. Such a dynamic trans-disciplinary engagement demands that the researchers discuss an overarching worldview (or several worldviews) that provide a philosophical foundation for mixed methods research. Building on the role of land in Aboriginal politics, we explore Native title and the interplay with freehold and leasehold models. Our model raises a range of issues for the contemporary commons. as well as conceptions of ownership when long leasehold interests replace freehold titles. Whilst in the short term, we suggest that there is no significant financial impact on those holding the new 99-year tenancies, a range of issues arise in respect of the reversionary interest including rights, obligations, and restrictions surrounding improvements on the land. We also highlight the complexity surrounding land tax and the role of the State in such a model.
Sankaran, S., Tay, B. & Orr, M. 2008, 'Incorporating Systems Thinking in Organizational Change Projects Using Action Research by Practitioners Conducting Academic Research', Proceedings fo the ISSS Madison 2008 Conference, Annual Meeting of the International Society of Systems Sciences, Internationla Society of System Sciences, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, pp. 1-17.
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Sankaran, S. & Tay, B.H. 2007, 'Are interpretive and critical research methods useful for research in project management?', Setting the Standard: Proceedings of the AIPM National Conference 2007, Project Management conference, AIPM, Hobart, Australia, pp. 1-13.
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This paper proposes that the project management discipline would benefit from the findings of practitioners who conduct research into their own practice. Project management researchers associated with a UK government-funded research project [1] have recently suggested that the project management field requires more research into project actuality, focusing on social processes of how project managers think in action and that such research could contribute to more satisfactory outcomes of contemporary projects. This paper describes a hypothetical dilemma faced by a project manager and briefly describes four doctoral research projects carried out by practitioners who used action research, case research and systems thinking methodologies to address real problems they faced in their projects. It discusses their findings and some common features of these projects and argues that practitioner research using interpretative and critical research methods into actual problems faced by project managers could contribute to useful knowledge for project managers.
Gibbs, A. & Sankaran, S. 2007, 'Strategies to manage cultural risks in international engineering projects', Proceedings of 21st IPMA World Congress Cracow 2007, Project Management: Essential Reality for Business and Government, Stowarzyszennei Project Management Polska, Cracow, Poland, pp. 167-172.
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This paper describes a research project carried out as part of a Doctor of Business Administration program by an Australian Project Manager participating in International Engineering Projects. The research points out to the importance of conducting a cultural risk especially in countries where the professional project management practices are yet being established either due to their stage of economic development or due to their recent democratization. The research used an embedded case study approach treating individual projects executed internationally as cases to be analysed. Multiple sources of evidence were used to arrive at the conclusions from the research pointing out organizational and personal strategies to manage cultural issues in international projects using a risk management approach.
Sankaran, S., Orr, M., Kumar, M.R. & Walker, S. 2007, 'How do organisations learn in a project environment? A multiple case study analysis drawing lessons from the built environment context.', Symposium: Building Across Borders Built Environment Procurement CIB W092 Procurement Systems, International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB) Meetings, Workshops, Symposia, Conferences, University of Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Australia, pp. 77-88.
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This paper is comprised of four parts. First it briefly reviews the literature on organizational learning, learning organizations and knowledge management and their relationship and describes a multifaceted model of organizational learning proposed in the literature to facilitate organizational learning. Second, it explains how organizational learning takes place in a project environment using three case studies based on doctoral research conducted by managers in their own organizations. Each of these projects was implemented as a strategic project in the organizations undergoing rapid change. All three projects used insider action research to implement change. Project teams were used in these projects during implementation that promoted learning, knowledge sharing and dissemination. The multifaceted organizational learning model is then used to analyse how organizational learning took place in these projects. Third it points out that there has been considerable interest in organizational learning and knowledge management in both project and construction management. While these practices have been widely adopted in a project management environment the construction industry is still in the early stages of adoption. Fourth, the paper reports on a discussion with built environment practitioners on the applicability of a multifaceted model to construction management. The paper concludes that while there is an increasing interest in both organizational learning and knowledge management in construction only a few facets of the multifaceted model are actually being used by the industry in Australia. The paper proposes that further research is needed to find a suitable model for promoting organizational learning and knowledge management in construction.
Sankaran, S. 2006, 'Practitioner Research in Project Management', Proceedings 3rd International Conference on Project Management (ProMAC 2006), Project Management conference, ProMAC, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-8.
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Sankaran, S., Xu, J. & Sankaran, G. 2006, 'Knowledge Sharing in Doctoral Research Supervision and Examination', Proceedings of Knowledge Management in Asia Pacific, Knowledge Management in Asia Pacific 2006, KMAP, Hongkong, PRC, pp. 1-16.
Xu, J., Sankaran, S., Sankaran, G. & Clarke, D. 2006, 'Do we know everything about knowledge management? A critical review of knowledge management literature', Proceedings of the 3rd Asia-Pacific International Conference on Knowledge Management (KMAP), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong.
Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'A non-energy focus for systemic improvement: Use of the pollution of Ganga as the metaphor', Proceedings of the 12th ANZ Sys Conference, Sustaining our Social and Natural Capital, ANZ Sys, Blue Mountains, NSW, pp. 19-28.
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Sankaran, S., Hill, G. & Swepson, P. 2006, 'Should Australian AR theses be examined using a developmental approach used by US Universities?', Proceedings of the 7th ALARPM and 11th PAR World Action Research Congress 2006, University of Groningen, Gronigen, Holland.
Day, K., Orr, M., Sankaran, S. & Norris, T. 2006, 'The reflective employee: Action research immortalized?', Proceedings of the 7th ALARPM and 11th PAR World Action Research Congress 2006, 7th ALARPM and 11th PAR World Action Research Congress 2006, University of Groningen, Groningen, Holland.
Action research is a cyclical process of plan, act, reflect and learn, and adapt the planned activities to enhance the final outcome of what we endeavour to achieve. The process involves reflection and capitalising on the communities of practice that grow in a project environment. Although not all people involved in these projects take on the practices of action research, many see it as adding value to the way they work and long after a project has been completed, people are still practicing the principles of reflection, deliberately learning from our experiences and developing communities of practice to enhance our work. AR becomes a part of who we are and many of us cant help passing it on to others.
Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'TQM: An integration of systems theory, System dynamics and organisational learning', Proceedings of the Quality Introspect 2006: All India Seminar on Organisational Performance Improvement Technique, Quality Introspec, Nagpur, India.
Hill, G., Sankaran, S. & Swepson, P. 2006, 'Examiner stories. Knowledge creation for the testers', Proceedings of the 7th Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference, Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference, The Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods, The Australian National University, Adelaide, Australia, pp. 29-40.
Crawford, L., Sankaran, S. & Butler, Y. 2005, 'Project Management in Complex Times', PMOZ 2005 - Projects: Making it Happen, PMOZ 2005 - Projects: Making it Happen, PM Oz, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1-15.
Xu, J., Quddus, M., Sankaran, S. & Faranda, B. 2005, 'Does size matter in knowledge management: A comparison between large organisations and SMEs?', Proceedings of the The Fifth International Conference on Electronic Business (ICEB 2005), International Conference on e-Business, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, pp. 556-561.
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This research intends to identify the differences and similarities of knowledge management in Large organizations and Small and Medium size enterprises (SMEs). Primary data were collected by interviewing five large businesses and ten SMEs. Besides the academic contribution to the field of knowledge management, this research will be able to provide applicable and practicable suggestions on the knowledge management practices to businesses in Australia.
Xu, J., Sankaran, S. & Faranda, B. 2005, 'Knowledge management in small and medium enterprises: An Australian study', Proceedings of the The Fifth International Conference on Electronic Business (ICEB 2005), International Conference on e-Business, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, pp. 556-561.
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This research aims to examine the factors influencing the knowledge management practices in Australian SMEs. Primary data was collected by studying companies in Tweed and Gold Coast areas. Besides the academic contribution to the field of knowledge management, this research will be able to provide applicable and practicable suggestions on the knowledge management practices to SMEs in Australia.
Sankaran, S. & Kaebernick, H. 2005, 'Making project management education happen online', Proceedings of the PMOz Conference 2005, PMOz, Gold Coast, Australia, pp. 1-13.
Orr, M. & Sankaran, S. 2005, 'Mutual empathy, ambiguity and the implementation of electronic knowledge management within the complex health system', Proceedings of 11th Annual ANZSYS Conference/Managing the Complex V, ANZSys, ANZSys, Christchurch, New Zealand.
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Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2005, 'Implementation of 5S through action research: An Indian context', Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Productivity and Quality Research (ICPQR) 2005, ICPQR, New Delhi, India.
Corray, A. & Sankaran, S. 2005, 'Tacit knowledge transfer in dynamic global organizations: A case study at a multinational company', Proceedings of the International Conference on Knowledge Management (ICKM 2005), International Conference on Knowledge Management, University of Oklahoma, Charlotte, North Carolina.
The rate of change for organizations has accelerated over the last fifteen years fuelled primarily by the internet revolution. Knowledge is now an indispensable economic factor of the globalized free trade era. To maintain sustainable competitive advantage, organizations are faced with the challenge of retaining and growing intellectual capital to contend with the dynamic forces of globalization. Organizations are maintaining flexible workforces although they serve to erode loyalties between employees and employees. The availability and effective transfer of tacit knowledge is fundamental to the survival, growth and ultimate capacity of an organization to maintain its competitive advantage, exploit current available resources to the maximum, increase internal efficiencies while creatively exploring opportunities with new knowledge. This study stresses the importance for organizations to focus on the exploitation of tacit knowledge by equipping their staff, a key knowledge asset, with sufficient competencies to create relevant frameworks specific to their environment. In doing so, staff would identify initiatives, harness, develop, coach and nurture the organization to redefine its business case and maintain its competitive edge. The study findings revealed that global organizations can achieve sustainable competitive advantage by nurturing a knowledge management system for tacit knowledge capture and new knowledge generation. The success of this is dependent on knowledge management being incorporated in the organizational management process with knowledge management training and development being a key component of organizational culture. On the basis of the findings, the study offers recommendations pertaining to policy and professional practice.
Sankaran, S., Tay, B. & Cheah, Y. 2003, 'Application of a dialectical model of soft systems methodology to conduct action research', Proceedings of the ALARPM/SCIAR Conference: Surfing the Waves of Change, ALARPM, Tweed Heads - Coiolangatta.
Crawford, L. & Sankaran, S. 2003, 'Integrating knowledge management and project management: Embedding knowledge management practices into projects', Proceedings of the World Project Management Week Conference (WPMW3), WPMW, Gold Coast.
Perry, C. & Sankaran, S. 2002, 'Practical methods in collecting and analysing information while conducting action research in organisations', Proceedings of the International Sociological Associations VIth World Congress of Sociology, ISA, Brisbane, pp. 1-26.
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Davies, A.T., Dick, B., Hase, S., Gloster, M., Kwok, R. & Sankaran, S. 2000, 'Problem-based learning with academic accreditation: A flexible postgraduate program for managers and practitioners using action research at the workplace', Proceeedings of the ASET/HERDSA Flexible Learning Conference, HERDSA, Towoomba, Qld.
SANKARAN, S. 1995, 'Introducing action learning to develop engineering managers in a business enterprise in Singapore', 1995 IEEE ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS OF, pp. 26-30.
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Journal articles

Ang, K., Sankaran, S. & Killen, C. 2016, 'Value for Whom, by Whom: investigating value constructs in non-profit project portfolios', Project Management Research and Practice, vol. 3, no. July-Dec.
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Structured abstract Synopsis This paper explores how value constructs are identified in a non-profit project portfolio. The study sheds light on the question of 'value for whom, value by whom?' by investigating the broad range of value constructs beyond financial value to better support portfolio decision making in multi-stakeholder environments. Methodology The research applies an in-depth case study methodology involving two inter-related organisations operating in a multiple project environment. The findings draw from in-depth interviews, field observations and organisational artefacts. Triangulation is achieved through the different data collection and analysis methodologies. A thematic analysis of the data was conducted using a combination of manual and CAQDAS (QSR NVivo) approaches. Findings The findings illustrate the complexity of multiple stakeholders' value perspectives in a non-profit project portfolio, and reveal how value understanding is built from many 'micro-constructs' of value emanating from a variety of stakeholders. A typology comprising seven value perspectives that aims to improve PPM decision making is proposed. Value This study is relevant to project portfolio management (PPM) and non-profit organisation (NPO) research in several ways. By studying how value is expressed and used to influence decisions in a NPO environment, deeper insights into the wide range of values at play in project portfolios are revealed. Value is an especially challenging area due to the often subjective, intangible and emotive aspects, particularly in projects managed by NPOs. The study makes contributions to research methodology by illustrating how case studies can be analysed to draw out multiple stakeholder perceptions and input. Educators and researchers may find the insights useful as they are able to draw on real world practice-based examples of value construction. For practitioners, educators and researchers, the typology of seven value perspectives aims to...
Biesenthal, C.E., Sankaran, S., Pitsis, T. & Clegg, S. 2015, 'Temporality in Organization Studies: Implications for Strategic Project Management', Open Economics and Management Journal, vol. 2, no. (Suppl 1: M7), pp. 45-52.
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Project managers require temporal skills and the ability to improvise when linear assumptions confront the complexities of managing projects within a context of strategic calculation. While the management and organization (MOS) literature emphasizes the importance of temporal skills for managing uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity, a dearth of project management literature contributes to this discussion. By reviewing literature on time in MOS and linking it to the field of project management we seek to make an initial bridge of this gap and argue that in order to improvise project managers need temporal skills. Project management practitioners and researchers work with assumptions of what constitutes normal time and linearity in projects, despite the variety of situations and events faced in projects. Practitioners, students and researchers in project management need to develop more sophisticated temporal skills to deal with a variety of projects, situations and events strategically.
Dick, B., Sankaran, S., Shaw, K., Kelly, J., Soar, J., Davies, A. & Banbury, A. 2015, 'Value Co-creation with Stakeholders Using Action Research as a Meta-methodology in a Funded Research Project', Project Management Journal, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 36-46.
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A large applied research study is a challenging exercise in project management and is often unpredictable because of its complexity. In the beginning, funding bodies, ethics committees, and participating organizations expect a plan of what is intended. As the research evolves, researchers must meet the expectations of stakeholders while being responsive to the emergent reality that the research faces and partly uncovers. This article describes action research used as an umbrella process that enabled us to manage the research project. We used action research as a meta-methodology—that is, a process that can subsume multiple subprocesses and under which these contradicting demands can be satisfied. In particular, two characteristics enable action research to do this. One is its cyclic process, iteratively tracing out a rhythm of planning, acting, and observing the results. The other is the nesting of its cycles, applied at scales ranging from the overall study to the moment-by-moment facilitation. We illustrate this use of action research with examples from a long-term applied study of leadership in faith-based, not-for-profit organizations.
Cameron, R., Sankaran, S. & Scales, J. 2015, 'Mixed Methods Use in Project Management Research', Project Management Journal, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 90-104.
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Despite positivist traditions mixed methods (MM) research is increasingly being used in management disciplines. The aim of the study is to examine the use and quality of MM in project management research. A content analysis of articles from three project management journals was undertaken. The MM articles identified were analysed in terms of sequencing, dominance and integration. Our findings suggest the need for capacity building in relation to the good reporting of MM studies. We conclude that the study of complex phenomena can benefit from MM in a field needing to b r e a k f r e e from a level of methodological inertia.
Forsythe, P., Sankaran, S. & Biesenthal, C. 2015, 'How Far Can BIM Reduce Information Asymmetry in the Australian Construction Context?', Project Management Journal, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 75-87.
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Pollack, J.B., Fahri, J., Biesenthal, C. & Sankaran, S. 2015, 'Understanding Megaproject Success beyond the Project Close-Out Stage', Construction Economics and Building, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 48-58.
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Project success has always been an important topic in the project management literature. One of the main discussions is concerned with how a project's success is evaluated and what factors lead to achieving this success. Traditionally project success has been measured at the point where the project outputs are handed over, after the close out phase. Recently, questions have been raised in the literature as to whether we should be evaluating project success beyond the close out phase, to better account for organizational and societal outcomes. However, not much has been published about how the long term impacts and outcomes are measured. This is of particular concern in megaprojects as they often attract a high level of public attention and political interest, and have both direct and indirect impacts on the community, environment, and national budgets. In this paper the authors review success factors and criteria that are applicable to projects in general and megaprojects in particular. They identify the significance of evaluating outcomes and impact and propose an ex-post project evaluation (EPPE) framework for megaprojects.
Sankaran, S., Abeysuriya, K., Gray, J. & Kachenko, A. 2015, 'Mellow Yellow: Taking a Systems Thinking Approach to Designing Research on Transitioning to More Sustainable Sewage Management', Systems Research and Behavioral Science, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 330-343.
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This paper will explain how a framework derived from systems thinking, including soft systems methodology and the use of action research as a methodology, shaped a research project addressing an area of application (sustainable sanitation). The research used F (intellectual framework) M (methodology for using F) to address A (area of application) for understanding rational intervention in human affairs proposed by Peter Checkland in the 1980s. This Australia-first research project was conducted by a multidisciplinary team of collaborators from academia, industry and government that included researchers, practitioners and students. It explored the use of innovative urine-diverting toilets in an institutional setting. The paper is focussed on the initial stages of the project—the project design and early investigative phase, and demonstrates how systems thinking and a transdisciplinary research approach were used to structure a complex problem related to sustainability, a problem that infringed on social and cultural issues.
Gajendran, T., Brewer, G., Gudergan, S. & Sankaran, S. 2014, 'Deconstructing dynamic capabilities: the role of cognitive and organizational routines in the innovation process', Construction Management and Economics, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 246-261.
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A better understanding of innovation processes might lead to productivity improvements. By focusing on a specific, economically relevant sector (construction) and on a specific type of firm (small to medium-sized enterprises, SMEs), the dynamic capabilities framework is extended by clarifying the roles of cognitive and organizational routines in organizational innovation processes. Insights generated from an in-depth case study of a medium-sized construction firm reveal that dynamic capabilities might diminish the relevance of an explicit innovation focus, because such capabilities have the potential to trigger emergent, incremental innovations. Accordingly, for construction SMEs, a development, rather than research, mode of innovation appears relatively more critical, as manifested in conscious cognitive routines and functional/integrative organizational routines.
Gray, J., Williams, J., Hagare, P., Lopes, A.M. & Sankaran, S. 2014, 'Lessons Learnt from Educating University Students through a Trans-Disciplinary Project for Sustainable Sanitation Using a Systems Approach and Problem-Based Learning', Systems, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 243-272.
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This article discusses how a Systems Thinking (ST) approach to student learning, employing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) interventions, at several different universities in Sydney, Australia was incorporated into a broader trans-disciplinary research project, the aim of which was to examine how urine diversion in an urban, institutional setting might form the basis of phosphorus collection-0phosphorus being a non-renewable resource used in agricultural fertilizers. The article explores how the ST approach employed by the researchers themselves was adapted to embrace student engagement opportunities and how it permitted opportunities for Problem-Based Learning interventions. Five academics forming part of the research team consider the effectiveness of ST-styled student engagement via Problem-Based Learning in three action research cycles used in the research project. In sharing their experiences they provide an honest, 'no-holds barred' review of what worked and what could be done more effectively with the benefits of hindsight.
Pollack, J.B., Adler, D. & sankaran, S. 2014, 'Mapping the field of Complexity Theory: A computational approach to understanding changes in the field', Emergence: Complexity and Organization, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 74-92.
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Pitsis, T.S., Sankaran, S.H.A.N.K.A.R., Gudergan, S. & Clegg, S. 2014, 'Governing projects under complexity: theory and practice in project management', International Journal of Project Management, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 1285-1290.
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Walker, S. & Sankaran, S. 2014, 'A participatory action research study of knowledge management implementation in a large European telecommunication company in their UK office', GIBARAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED MANAGEMENT, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 36-63.
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Knowledge management is being highlighted as a major source of sustained competitive advantage for contemporary organisations. Deploying knowledge management programs presents many challenges and this is evident by the high failure rate of initiatives. Conventional research techniques have failed to develop a rich understanding of the major implementation barriers and have therefore provided minimal assistance to practicing managers. This paper discusses the importance of knowledge to customer support organisations in the telecommunications sector and how one European support organisation approached the deployment of knowledge-centric support in their UK office. The deployment approach incorporates a participatory action research framework that facilitates research and project delivery and ensures practising managers have learning outcomes that can be applied in their organisations.
Sankaran, S., Dick, B., Shaw, K., Cartwright, C., Davies, A., Kelly, J. & Vindin, B. 2014, 'Application of Scenario-based Approaches in Leadership Research: An Action Research Intervention as Three Sets of Interlinked Practices', SYSTEMIC PRACTICE AND ACTION RESEARCH, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 551-573.
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Sankaran, S. 2013, 'Strengthening Leadership Capability of Not-for-profit Organizations in Australia: An Open-Space Exploration in the ALARA Community', Action Learning and Action Research Journal, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 25-39.
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This paper is based on reflections from two ALARA conferences that explored whether four new leadership theories have a role in developing leaders of not-for-profit (NFP) organizations in Australia. The author first invited the attendees at ALARA's national conference held in Brisbane in 2011 to participate in an interactive workshop to explore four new leadership theories authentic, servant, spiritual and relational leadership for the applicability to NFP faith-based organizations providing health and community care in Australia. The workshop was facilitated by the author along with an experienced facilitator who was attending the conference using an Open Space Technology (OST) meeting format to facilitate dialogue between participants utilizing a theme proposed for the meeting. At the start of the meeting the two facilitators briefly introduced the four leadership theories to be discussed. They then described the OST process. Next, participants were asked to announce discussion topics at the village marketplace that was created for the workshop. Groups of participants interested in a particular topic joined the discussion and the person who proposed the topic led the discussion. Summaries of the discussions were collected and posted by the group leaders. A final reflection took place in the open space (a circle of chairs with a space within) at which all the different groups were present. The reflections recorded at the workshop in the 2011 ALARA conference were analyzed and presented at the 2012 ALARA national conference held in Sydney and further discussed with two groups at this conference. The feedback from these two discussions formed the basis for action research cycles with the ALARA community that led to this the paper.
O'Sheedy, D. & Sankaran, S. 2013, 'Agile Project Management for IT Projects in SMEs: A Framework of Success Factors', International Technology Management Review, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 187-195.
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Project management methods have been developed from industry practices and international standards to ensure a higher rate of success for information technology projects. These have been widely used in large organisationseffectively. However, when projects are implemented in a small or medium-sized enterprise environment, there is often a lack of an established method of project management or skilled project implementers who can use methods used in large organisations. As project workers find themselves pressured to become more responsive to business demands, it is becoming commonplace for smaller organisations to forgo formal project management practices. This is often due to the fact that small projects are viewed as simple to deploy, suffer from a lack of resources, or are given low prioritisation by the organisation. Additionally, the current project management standards are frequently perceived by SMEs as complicated and overly bureaucratic, something undesirable in regards to timeconstrained or low-budget projects. Agile development is one solution to the problem of overly complex methods that has recently been adopted in the field of software production, and has gained considerable popularity with smaller organisations. Through action research conducted in two closely-related SMEs in Austria, a final agileproject management framework was produced in the end of the study. The developed framework consists of fourphases of initiating phase (addressing objectives), planning phase (focusing on project backlog), executing and controlling phase (looking at iterative project cycles), and closing phase (working on project deliverables). Meanwhile some suggestions associated with the success of the developed agile project management framework are presented as well.
Shaw, K., Cartwright, C., Sankaran, S., Kelly, J., Dick, B., Davies, A. & Craig, J. 2013, 'Leadership in faith-based aged and community care', Leadership in Health Services, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 312-321.
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The purpose of this paper is to identify the domains of performance needed by leaders in aged and community care not-for-profit organisations. Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with senior managers employed by faith-based aged and community care not-for-profit organisations, academics in ageing and business fields and senior government employees from aged services departments and agencies in Australia. Results were content transcribed and analysed thematically in order to identify the major themes that emerged. The findings of this study suggest that the aged and community care not-for-profit sector has specific requirements for the performance of its leaders. Leadership is one of a number of performance attributes desirable in leaders in this sector. The aged and community care not-for-profit sector has distinctive needs and specific requirements of its leaders. It is recommended that a broad range of performance attributes are taken into account by aged and community care not-for-profit organisations when recruiting and training staff in leadership positions.
Muller, R., Andersen, E., Kvalnes, O., Shao, J., Sankaran, S., Turner, R., Biesenthal, C.E., Walker, D. & Gudergan, S. 2013, 'The Interrelationship of Governance, Trust and Ethics in Temporary Organizations', Project Management Journal, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 26-44.
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This study investigates the variety of ethical decisions of project managers and their impact from corporate governance and project governance structures. The roles of personal trust and system trust as a mechanism to steer ethical decision making in different governance settings is explored. Nine qualitative case studies in Europe, Asia, and Australia show that ethical decision making is contingent on trust, which in turn is contingent on the fulfillment of personal expectations within a given governance structure. The findings show the prerequisites for ethical decision making and the consequences of lack of trust. Further managerial and theoretical implications are discussed.
Pollack, J.B., Costello, K.L. & Sankaran, S. 2013, 'Applying Actor-Network Theory as a sensemaking framework for complex organisational change programs', International Journal of Project Management, vol. 31, no. 8, pp. 1118-1128.
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The implementation of a Project Management Information System (PMIS) in three public sector agencies is examined using Actor-Network Theory, an infrequently applied approach to project management research. Use of the PMIS focused on practitioner capability, without acting as a mechanism of project control. This is different to how a PMIS is generally portrayed in the literature, suggesting a need to rethink the ways a PMIS can support project management. The research revealed that the PMIS software application, by itself, would have had limited impact, and similarly the practitioner-researchers who developed and implemented the PMIS would, by themselves, have been less effective. Instead, the contribution, effectiveness and capability came from the stable network of association between the practitioner researchers and the PMIS; an actor-network, which allowed other networks to stabilise and develop, as new users learned how to conceptualise their work through project management concepts, and developed their project management capability.
Sheffield, J., Sankaran, S. & Haslett, T. 2012, 'Systems Thinking: Taming Complexity in Project Management', On the Horizon, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 126-136.
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Project Management and Systems Thinking overlap. In a software development world where the problems with today's legacy system are a consequence of yesterday's enterprise-wide solution, it is useful to understand cycles of cause and effect and their attendant time delays. As system complexity increases, systems thinking becomes increasingly important in generating debate and insight about an uncertain and changing environment. Surprisingly, project managers do not seem to use simple systems thinking tools even though these provide unique benefits in framing and solving problems that arise from multiple perspectives and relationships. The purpose of this paper is to introduce systems thinking and describe its application to the management of complexity in projects. It is based on a subject developed and taught by two of the authors if the paper in a Master of Project Management Course offered at the University of Technology Sydney to help project managers use systems thinking approaches to deal with project complexity. The subject evolved over a three year period using an action research approach to improve the subject to meet the needs of the students as well as the increasingly complex environment that they face in their projects. In this paper systems thinking is positioned in the evolution of the project management discipline, and its relationship to complex systems explored. Selected concepts are then described and applied to the three phases (concept, implementation and evaluation) of the system development lifecycle.
Pasian, B., Sankaran, S. & Boydell, S. 2012, 'Project management maturity: a critical analysis of existing and emergent factors', International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 146-157.
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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to report on the findings of a doctoral thesis examining the limitations of project management maturity and associated models. It examines the management of undefined projects where the definition, repeatability and predictability of processes cannot be reasonably expected. The challenge to project management maturity theorists is to recognize the possibility of project management maturity in an environment characterized by undefined project elements and the requirement for greater flexibility in their management. Design/methodology/approach: This inquiry was supported by a multimethod (MXM) research design with two stages: a content/textual analysis of two different collections of maturity models, and an exploratory case study of two university sites. The analysis (supported by grounded theory techniques) contributed to the development of a 4-node conceptual framework that was used as the primary data collection instrument at two Canadian university sites. Findings: Results indicate that multiple non-process factors can contribute to a mature project management capability. These can include context-specific values, specialized bodies of knowledge (instructional design), customer involvement, third-party influence, and tacit - human factors - such as trust and creativity. The demands of this inquiry also demonstrated the need for a new data collection sequence in multimethod research design theory. Practical implications: Practitioners are encouraged to consider customer involvement, organizational dynamics and adaptable variables such as leadership (among other non-process factors) in their assessment of the maturity of their project management capability, and designers of future models could explore a multi-dimensional approach that includes context-specific factors to assessing and defining project management maturity. Originality/value: This research expands the conceptual view and practical assessment of project mana...
O'Sheedy, D., Xu, J. & Sankaran, S. 2010, 'Preliminary results of a study of agile project management techniques in a SME environment', International Journal of Art and Sciences, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 278-291.
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Preliminary results from a doctoral action research project carried out fo ten months in a small and medium enterprise environment at Vienna, Austria.
Sankaran, S., Hou, B. & Orr, M. 2009, 'Managing Organizational Change by Using Soft Systems Thinking in Action Research Projects', Internation aJournal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 179-197.
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The paper aims to show how systems thinking can be incorporated in action research interventiions to successfully implement organizational change. The two case studies described in this paper would be useful to managers who want to implement change in their own organizations.
Sankaran, S., Leigh, E.E. & Kruse, P. 2008, 'Using Systems Thinking to Explore Wicked Problems', Action Learning and Action Research Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 38-49.
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This paper first explains what is meant by wicked problems. Second it will compare Horst Rittel's reasons for identifying wicked problems as opposed to tame problems and Peter Checkland's development of soft systems thinking as opposed to hard systems thinking. it will then describe the process used at the National ALARA conference workshop held at Canberra and the outcome of the exploration. The paper will end with some reflections on the use of SSM to deal with wicked problems.
Xu, J., Sankaran, G., Sankaran, S. & Clarke, D. 2008, 'Knowledge Management in Twenty-first Century: Literature Review and Further Research Directions', International Technology Management Review, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 18-24.
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Title: Knowledge management in twenty-first century: literature review and future research directions Keywords: Knowledge Management, Literature Review, Research Issues and Future Research Directions Category of paper: Conceptual paper Purpose of the research: This paper aims to review and investigate the gaps in the current literature on knowledge management. Findings: By reviewing 80 knowledge management papers from seven selected journals in the disciplines of information systems, business, management and operations research, we identified the current status, activities and directions of knowledge management research. Value of the paper: This paper will make contribution in the field of knowledge management by proposing a number of research agenda along the dimensions of research methods, research levels and research topics of knowledge management. Number of pages: 9 Number of tables/figures: 6 Section headings: Introduction, The Method, Results of the Literature Review, Identified Research Agenda and Research Issue
Sankaran, S. 2007, 'Notes from the field: Action research conversations', Action Research, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 341-352.
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I had the pleasure of meeting several action researchers across the USA during my sabbatical late last year. The multiple purposes for my visit to the USA were to meet doctoral students doing their research in organizational change and development in Hawaii; interview prominent action researchers in the US about examining action research dissertations; and to have discussions with action researchers on ways to increase conversations among action researchers around the world. I thought it would be good to share some insights from my visit with fellow action researchers as a letter to Action Research.
Sankaran, S., Hase, S., Dick, B. & Davies, A.T. 2007, 'Singing different tunes from the same song sheet: Four perspectives of teaching the doing of action research', Action Research, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 293-305.
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Orr, M. & Sankaran, S. 2007, 'Mutual empathy, ambiguity and the implementation of electronic knowledge management within the complex health system', Emergence: Complexity and Organization, vol. 9, no. 1-2, pp. 44-55.
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Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2007, 'Indian culture and the culture of TQM: A comparison', TQM Magazine, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 176-188.
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Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2007, 'TQM: An Integration of Systems Theory, System Dynamics and Organisational Learning', Action Learning and Action Research Journal, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 30-52.
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Sankaran, S., Hase, S., Dick, B. & Davies, A.T. 2006, 'Reflections on developing an offshore action research/learning based PhD program', Action Learning: Research and Practice, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 197-211.
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In this paper, the authors describe their experience of establishing an action research/learning-based doctoral program in Singapore by an Australian university, which was designed to help managers get academic accreditation while solving workplace problems. The program was designed by four managers working in Singapore and their supervisors. These managers had completed a Ph.D. program using action learning/action research in their workplace under the supervision of Australian academics. The paper describes the various challenges faced by the candidates, supervisors and administrators in developing and implementing the new program.
Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'The actions of Mahabarat (An Indian epic); Analysis from and action science perspective', Systemic Practice and Action Research, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 159-178.
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This paper analyses the actions of Mahabharat from the point of view of action science. From the point of view of action science, the source of the problem of Mahabharat is the undiscussable issue of who should be the king of Hastinapur. The paper then analyses the actions of different actors of this epic. It concludes that Yudhishthir displays the Model I governing value of `minimize generating or expressing negative feelings. Duryodhan displays the Model I governing value of `maximize winning and minimize losing. Vidur, Bhishm andDronacharya display the Model I governing value of `be rational. Together these actors create the `limited learning system of ModelO-I. The primary inhibitory loops created by this limited learning system finally lead to secondary inhibitory loop of polarisation of different actors into two groups and the emergence of win-lose group dynamics in the form of war as the only action which can settle the original undiscussable issue of who should be the king of Hastinapur.
Sankaran, S., Hill, G. & Swepson, P. 2006, 'Should Australian AR theses be examined using a developmental approach used by US Universities?', Action Learning and Action Research Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 28-48.
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Day, K., Orr, M. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'The reflexive employee: Action research immortalized?', Action Learning and Action Research Journal, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 5-27.
Sankaran, G., Hase, S. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'What impact will the research quality framework have on knowledge production and diffusion in Australia's new generation universities?', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 55-61.
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The current research funding model for Australian universities is based on performance (Kemp 1999). In 2005, the Commonwealth government proposed a new model based on research quality ranking, to increase the accountability and accessibility of publicly funded research. The proposed Research Quality Framework will, for the first time, take into consideration the impact as well as the quantity and quality of research. Many academics and smaller universities are concerned that they might be disadvantaged. This paper looks at how the new model is likely to impact knowledge production and transfer in Australias New Generation Universities, especially with regards to business research.
Sankaran, S., Sheppard, A., Cartwright, C. & Kelly, J. 2006, 'How can we develop a leadership capability framework for non-profit Australian health and community organizations?', International Journal of Health and Ageing Management, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 47-60.
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Leadership is a topic that raises a great deal of interest as well as concem to organisations, communities and nations. There is a great deal of literature on the subject, e.g. a search using 'leadership' as a keyword in Proqnest 5000 database found 30,447 peer-reviewed articles. Despite this, '... leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomenon on earth' (Dainty & Anderson 1996, p. 116 - quoting Bums 1978), with no universal agreement on definitions, or what leadership involves. There is also confusion about which qualities are most necessary for leadership and whether such qualities are intrinsic or can be developed (Bums 1978). Yet leadership remains a potent focus of interest and debate because the quality of leadership can impact significantly on the quality of life of people at work or in the broader conununity (Van Maurik 2001).
Kouzmin, A., Hase, S. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'Careless conversations, costly mistakes: Coercive managers and organizations in the litigious spotlight', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 95-102.
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Despite what we know about the psychology of human behaviour at work and communication, careless conversations on the part of managers to each other and to other employees have an enormous human resource cost to organisations and, emotionally, to those involved. This paper is based on a number of case studies in which careless conversations by managers have led to: workers compensation claims; sick leave; prolongation of workers compensation and sick leave; staff turnover; organisational ineffectiveness; low morale; and mental and physical illness. These case studies have unearthed several manifestations of careless conversations. These include: inappropriate emotional responses on the part of managers; a failure to recognise the impact of punishment for what are relatively minor breaches of policy on hard working employees; covert punishment; lack of recognition for hard work; job insecurity; favouritism; unresolved conflict; inability to deal with people in distress; ignoring the prompt resolution of work problems; workers compensation paralysis; ignoring issues of justice; and ignorance of individual styles and needs. The reasons for this behaviour are discussed and we argue that this is largely a preventable problem and provide a number of solutions.
James, P. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'How and why redundant knowledge assets are identified? A case study of the end of the knowledge asset lifecycle', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 151-160.
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Public sector reform, or New Public Management in Australia, and around the world, is causing operational and cultural change within government departments. For such transformation to occur, people and organisations are required to `unlearn the old and now `dysfunctional ways of doing things. The changes are analogous to the process of `creative destruction, where organisations make their knowledge obsolete through developments in technology, business processes or business models. This phenomenon is common to all organisations, social, firms, and societies, as they all evolve through adapting the knowledge of their members. An inability to unlearn can reduce the speed with which new learning takes place, potentially favouring efficiency over flexibility, and inhibiting the ability to change. Based on research into twelve public sector organisations in Australia, the research established a nexus between the two management disciplines of strategic management and knowledge management. The focus of the research was a study of the life cycle of knowledge assets, which starts and ends when their need or otherwise is identified directly or indirectly by strategic plans. Knowledge assets are acquired, deployed, utilised and maintained until they are no longer needed. They are then disposed of by outsourcing or atrophy when people are redeployed or retrained. The research found that the majority of the public sector practitioners interviewed admitted that their departments had no formal processes for identifying redundant knowledge assets. This is supported by case studies on Australian Government departments where the focus of these programs is on knowledge capture, sharing and utilisation.
Hase, S., Sankaran, S. & Davies, A.T. 2006, 'Overcoming barriers to knowledge management: Visiting the dark side of the organization', ActKM Online Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 35-44.
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Like many organisational endeavours, the success of knowledge management praxis is subject to the vagaries of human nature. There are many reasons, most of which are underpinned by the need for power, why people might choose to hoard, distort and manipulate information. Recent studies undertaken by the authors have demonstrated the way in which knowledge management processes can also be manipulated to impede the distribution of power. This dark side of organisational behaviour is usually subversive, can be unconscious or conscious and always acts against the interests of the group or part of the group. It is important for those involved in knowledge management practice to be acutely aware of the dynamics of the dark side and how they may interfere with their best intentions. As well as describing this phenomenon, this paper also suggests a number of ways in which the dark side might be overcome. Chiefly, drawing on general systems theory, we suggest some techniques that facilitate both open communication and open process.
Kumar, M.R. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'From East to West - Has the twain met? Linkages between context sensitivity and soft systems methodology', Systemic Practice and Action Research, vol. 19, no. 4, pp. 365-381.
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This paper links context sensitivity of Indians to mode 2 of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) bringing out the similarities between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft and the primary mode and secondary mode of behaviour of context sensitivity respectively. Both SSM and context sensitivity consider the totality of environment before selecting the most appropriate behaviour. In the Indian context, the three dimensions of context sensitivity person (patra), time (kal) and ecology (the pattern of relationships people have with their social and physical surrounding) (desh) are the three coordinates along which SSMs standard of facts and values change. The unbundling of the changing standard of SSM along the three dimensions of person, time and ecology and across the two polarities of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft provides a model which is used to explain the recent economic rise of India.
Kouzmin, A., Sankaran, S., Hase, S. & Kakabadse, N. 2006, 'Je regrette: Towards marshalling remorse in knowledge transfer', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 89-94.
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In the manifold excesses of current Anglo-American managerial praxis, from short-term time horizons, grossly distorted expressions of managerial prerogatives and remuneration rationales and a calculated brutality far in excess of any Human Relations sensitivity, the need to inflate shareholder perceptions of the bottom line has led to a managerial immorality that staggers many ethical and stakeholders boundaries. Post Enron, Tyco and others, can much change? Are all senior managers doomed to the moral/ethical vacuum of the bottom line? With remuneration packages deliberately focused around an economic-rationalist brutality, what reflective space, what discourse allows and enables moments of remorse/regret and accommodates the inevitable need for personal accountability and attempts at restitution? Is it merely recourse to recalcitrant legal/governance codes that provides for accounting for managerial incompetence and ideologized greed? How will management discourse remember the current regressive nature of managerial behaviour? How will Knowledge Management, in full flight with rhetoric about the importance of Tacit Knowledge, deal with organizational incompetence?
James, P. & Sankaran, S. 2006, 'Development of a research model of knowledge asset management in the Australian Public Sector', Australasian Journal of Business and Social Inquiry, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 36-59.
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This paper will identify any pertinent research issues in knowledge asset management by exploring the literature of knowledge management (KM) as well as knowledge asset management. An examination ofKM as practised in the Australian public sector (APS) will place the research in context and establish its boundaries. This will be followed by the gaps discovered in the existing research in Australia, a theoretical framework, research issues and a conclusion.
Sankaran, S., Walker, S., James, P., Mau, M. & Orr, M. 2005, 'Real experiences in knowledge management implementation: Using action research', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 5, no. 2005/6, pp. 99-106.
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This session will descibe real experiences of four managers who are using action research to study/ implement knowledge management strategies in private and public sector organisations as part of their Doctor of Business Administration at Southern Cross University. An overview of how action research approaches are being used to conduct research into knowledge management will be descibed by their supervisor from Southern Cross University. The session is expected to be conducted in an interactive 'knowledge cafe' format introduced by David Gurteen at the Fourth knowledge, Culture and Change at Greenwich and the participants will be expected to take an active part in discussing practitioner's research into knowledge management. 'Action Research Models in Knowledge Management' The following four presenters are all DBA students of the Graduate College of Management, Southern Cross University, Australia. Simon Walker (UK) 'What are the Major Barriers to the Successful Deployment of Knowledge Management Programs in the Telecommunications Industry: A Participatory Action Research Study' Paul James (Canberra, Australia) 'Knowledge Asset Management: A Study of the Lifecyle of Knowledge Assets' Michelle Mau (Brisbane, Australia) 'Knowledge Management: Connecting Knowledge in a Public Sector Organisation' Martin Orr (Auckland, New Zealand) 'The Implementation fo Electronic Health Knowledge Management Systems at a Divisional Health Board'
Orr, M., Sankaran, S. & James, P. 2005, 'The implementation of electronic health knowledge management systems in a district health board: Respect and Protect', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 5, no. 2005/6, pp. 113-124.
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This paper describes the implementation of a suite of Electronic Clinical Health Knowledge Management Systems in a New Zealand District Health Board. The implementation team utilized an action research framework, actively reflecting on each sub-stage of the project, and then utilising key learnings from these reflections, in combination with available related literature, to plan for the next implementation stage. A brief overview of key implementation issues/learning and ethical challenges will be presented. The paper will highlight the importance of a systemic shared culture that 'Respects and Protects' Health Knowledge. The Use of I-Mail as a reflection tool, and perceived links between Action Research and individual and group psychological processes will also be discussed.
Sankaran, S., James, P., Kouzmin, A. & Hase, S. 2005, 'Theory-Y leadership in the knowledge economy: Towards tackling the tacit knowledge enigma', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 331-339.
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The changing nature of the psychological contract between employer and employee has brought new challenges to leaders of organizations in the knowledge era. A major challenge for leadership now is what form of psychological contract will motivate people to share the knowledge held in the heads of knowledge workers, which is mostly tacit? Related to this is the setting up of an environment in an organization to facilitate knowledge transfer. It has been mentioned that in an age where organizations have become flat, networked and amorphous, leadership is actually distributed according to the circumstances. So setting up effective practices to develop many leaders is also an issue for organizations. Long before industries caught up with the idea of knowledge as a resource, Universities had been in the business of managing knowledge. They provided an appropriate environment to facilitate creation, sharing and dissemination of knowledge based on collaboration and trust, and public recognition as a currency of exchange for using other peoples knowledge. This may lead us to believe that the academic model of leadership is applicable to industry. The general management of academics and staff at the University seems to be catching up with the commercial world these days. Therefore it is futile to look for a new leadership model for the knowledge age in the University governance area. Could mentoring, coaching and the use of reflective practice, used successfully in the supervision of research in the University, provide clues to a model for leadership and leadership development that can be applied in industry in the knowledge age?
Sankaran, S., Kouzmin, A. & Hase, S. 2005, 'Learning from alliances: Knowledge management or "ignorance management'?', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 155-164.
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The past two decades have seen the emergence of a variety of strategic alliances in an attempt by organizations to cope with the demands of rapidly changing and complex environments. Initially, reasons for strategic alliances have been primarily economic or strategic risk sharing, market penetration, technology transfer or pooling resources. As the knowledge-based theory of the firm gained prominence, organizations have started realizing that knowledge is a critical resource for competitive advantage. Organizations have recently started paying more attention to processes that can enable inter-organizational learning and knowledge transfer. Research conducted so far regarding knowledge transfer between partners in strategic alliances clearly indicates that the transfer does not happen automatically and has to be managed. It also shows that managers may not be fully aware of how to facilitate knowledge transfer. The barriers to knowledge transfer are a complex mixture of issues covering organizational, social and technological factors as well as the nature of knowledge being shared. A review of the literature indicates that organizations do not seem to utilise tools created in the knowledge management field that can facilitate knowledge sharing. There is also a feeling among scholars that while organizations can develop strategies to exploit what they know, it is never possible to know everything that an organization needs and organizations should also learn how to manage their ignorance as well. This paper identifies some questions for knowledge management scholars and practitioners to carry out research in knowledge transfer and inter-organizational learning among strategic alliances.
Sankaran, S., Swepson, P. & Hill, G. 2005, 'Do research theses examiners need training? Practitioner stories', Qualitative Report, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 817-835.
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We are thesis examiners within the Australian academic system who formed a community of practice to try to resolve some of the issues we were facing. Stories of examiners reflecting on and examining their own practice are a notable silence in the higher degree research literature. In this study we have adopted a storytelling inquiry method that involved telling our practitioner stories, firstly to each other and then to a wider audience through this paper. We then identified issues that we believe are relevant to other thesis examiners. We have also found that engaging in a community of practice is itself a valuable form of examiner professional development.
James, P., Walker, S. & Sankaran, S. 2005, 'A study of the lifecycle of knowledge assets', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 5, no. 2005/6, pp. 24-35.
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Although dialogue about knowledge management and intellectual capital often uses the term `knowledge assets, a review of the literature on these topics has failed to reach consensus on a definition, despite examples given in extant literature. Based on a review of the literature and case study research with twelve organisations in the Australian Public Sector, this paper discusses knowledge assets, and preliminary findings on their importance and how their need or otherwise is identified. The paper concludes with a proposed life cycle for knowledge assets that are organisational resources.
Benton, I. & Sankaran, S. 2005, 'Mentoring women in acquiring small business management skills & minus; gaining the benefits and avoiding the pitfalls', Australasian Journal of Business and Social Inquiry, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 1-10.
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Mentoring has gained increased credibility as a skills-transfer mechanism in business in recent years. Already recognised for its effectiveness within larger corporations, the benefits must be attainable for those seeking to acquire small business management skills. In order to answer the specific question `How can women be more effectively mentored in the acquisition of small business management skills?, this paper reviews and synthesises the literature on the parent discipline of mentoring and the immediate disciplines of relationship nature, benefits and risks of mentoring, and the effect of mentor gender as applied to the female mentoree. It concludes by presenting the key research issues revealed as gaps in the literature.
Sankaran, S., Glover, J., Walker, S. & James, P. 2005, 'Developing a dilemma model to diagnose and overcome organizational cultural barriers to implement knowledge management', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 377-384.
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Knowledge Management has recently been recognised as a basis of competitive advantage by many organizations around the world. However the rate of success of projects to implement knowledge management has been disappointing based on surveys conducted over the past five years. One of the major reasons for the failures has been identified as the barriers due to organizational culture. Research conducted in identifying cultural blocks to knowledge management using conventional research methods such as surveys has not provided very satisfactory insights.
Mui, D.H. & Sankaran, S. 2004, 'An Effective Project Management-Based Application Model of Sustainable Urban Renewal in Hong Kong', Project Management Journal, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 15-34.
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In this paper, we describe how a project management-based application model was designed to implement sustainable urban renewal projects in Hong Kong. The model was based on project organizational structure, team structure, attributes of team members, stakeholder management, communication, and information technology enablers. We conducted studies of other local and international urban renewal cases to verify and fine-tune the project management model identified in this paper. From our study, we conclude that the model used in Hong Kong can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of urban renewal project implementation. Our findings e also provide a foundation for applying the model at other locations, after taking into account the respective environments of these other locations.
Sankaran, S., Tay, B. & Cheah, Y. 2004, 'Application of a dialectical model of soft systems methodology to conduct action research', Action Learning and Action Research Journal, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 93-104.
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Kouzmin, A., Sankaran, S., Hase, S. & Kakabadse, N. 2004, 'Harvesting people: Toward the political economy of a knowledge society', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-8.
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The present patenting of 'life' and the rush to economically 'harvest' people warrants the Knowledge management discourse to broaden its focus and its time horizons.
Hase, S., Kouzmin, A., Kakabadse, N. & Sankaran, S. 2004, 'Knowledge management and changing psychological contracts', International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 349-354.
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The literature on knowledge management has been curiously silent about the role of knowledge management as a method of supporting a neo-liberal agenda of organizational anorexia and professional disempowerment. This paper suggests that the impact of knowledge management praxis needs to be considered in the light of a changing psychological contract that may have detrimental effects on both individuals and organisations.
Hase, S. & Sankaran, S. 2003, 'A review of the handbook of action research', Concepts and Transformations, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 317-327.
Sankaran, S. 2001, 'Methodology for an organisational action research thesis', Action Research International, vol. 6, pp. 1-15.
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Management learning is a relatively new field that is of strategic importance to organisations facing rapid changes in their environment. Despite its importance, research methods in management learning are still not well established. There is also an increasing interest in studying how managers learn from situations in their work place. Hence I decided to focus my research on management learning at my workplace. For my doctoral thesis, I carried out an action research study of management learning by intervening in a new engineering operation in a Japanese multinational company in Singapore.


Cartwright, C., Ryan, N., Sankaran, S.H.A.N.K.A.R. & Soar, J. ASLaRC, Southern Cross University An innovative model of leadership development for the not-for-profit aged and community care sector, no. ISBN 978-0-9871316-4-5, Lismore.
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