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Implementing a new performance management system within a project-based organization: A case study

by Mei-I Cheng, Andrew Dainty, David Moore
International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management ()


Purpose – The paper seeks to show that implementing change initiatives in organizations is extremely problematic, particularly in relation to human resource management (HRM) initiatives. The challenges inherent in implementing new HRM systems and procedures is arguably more acute in project-based organizations where temporary teams and geographically dispersed employees render the coherent implementation of new systems and procedures problematic. This paper presents the findings of case study research in which the implementation of a new performance management system for improving individual project manager performance is evaluated. A framework is developed for guiding the implementation of similar change initiatives in other project-based organizations. Design/methodology/approach – A longitudinal case study methodology was adopted for the study. This enabled the ways in which resistance to change was manifested, and to be explored, and the actions necessary to circumvent barriers to its use discerned. The final framework is derived from a review of change strategies in other industries and sectors as well as from the case study findings. Findings – The paper finds that barriers to implementing new performance solutions stemmed from a lack of senior management commitment and support, ingrained working practices and an absence of appropriate training interventions. These are relatively straightforward to overcome as part of a robust implementation framework. Research limitations/implications – The assertions made within the paper are based on a single case study. Further work is required to validate the findings within other organizations. Practical implications – The posited approach in this paper provides a practical implementation methodology, which may be transferable to other project-led organizations. The framework provides a point of departure for organisations looking for practicable ways of mitigating organizational resistance to performance initiatives, particularly project-oriented businesses, which face additional challenges in terms of delivering coherent change programmes. Originality/value – In the paper the practical implementation methodology proposed provides a point of departure for companies considering strategies for successfully implementing performance management tools in the future.

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