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Resource Development and Use Across Project Boundaries


Anna Dubois
Chalmers University of Technology
Anna Dubois and
Frida Lind
Chalmers University of Technology
Frida Lind

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 21st IMP-conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2005.


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The interest in projects as a form of organising seems to increase in a number of empirical andacademic fields. Lately, several authors have stressed the relevance and importance of notconsidering projects as isolated, but as part of wider contexts (Kreiner 1995; Karlsen 1998; Bengtssonand Ericsson 2002; Engwall 2003). This paper presents a case study of an inter-organisationalresearch project in which four parent organisations are part: two university departments and twocompanies. The case focuses on how resources are developed and used in interplay between theproject and its external contexts. Based on the case we elaborate further on what has been identifiedas a paradox of project organising referring to the tension between identity and difference (Marshall2002). First, the project members’ embeddedness in different ‘permanent’ networks provides a basisfor resource use and development beyond the project boundary but may also make individualmembers less flexible within the project. Second, the differences among project members provides abasis for complementarities among their resources, but these differences may also imply differentviews on resources as ends and/or means which may produce tensions among them. Third, theuncertainty characterising development projects implies that projects cannot be planned in any detailat the outset. While discoveries are important outcomes of development projects they also make thedevelopment process difficult to predict and plan among the parties involved.