Social Sustainability Aspects of Agile Project Management : An Exploratory Study of Social Sustainability Aspects in Agile Project Management

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to explore a new perspective within the sustainability of project management theoretical area. The research focuses on verifying the existence of  interconnections between Agile Project Management and Social Sustainability, and on understanding how Agile Project Management impacts organisational social dynamics from a Social Sustainability point of view. Research Methodology/ Approach/ Design: Through an in-depth single-holistic case study,  the research investigates the social dynamics taking place amongst the members of an international IT company, applying an agile project management framework since more than two years. A total of six extensive semi-structured interviews have been carried out with people covering different positions within the company. By working on qualitative data from the interviews, the researchers obtained an in-vivo set of interconnected concepts. The analysis work consisted in qualitatively analysing these concepts and relations in order to build a network diagram reproducing graphically the interconnections existing between Agile Project Management elements and the Social Sustainability factors proposed by Missimer et al. (2016a, 2016b). Research Findings: The findings - obtained through the analysis of the network diagram - have been analysed with the lenses of the five factors, that have not to be degraded in order to ensure the social sustainability of a social system. It has been found that implementation of Agile Project Management, within the company’s environment, has impacted the organisation’s social dynamics in several ways. These impacts influenced in a direct or indirect way individual’s “Health”, their “Capacity to Influence”, their “Capacity to Acquire New Competences”, and their “Capacity of Meaning-Making”. By analysing the type of influence APM has on these four aforementioned factors, it has been found that it influences positively all of them. This allowed us to conclude that, according to Missimer et al. definition of Social Sustainability, Agile Project Management shows several interconnections to Social Sustainability and that it seems to benefit organisational internal social dynamics making them more socially sustainable. Research limitations: Because of the exploratory nature of the research, the empirical study has been based on a single in-depth case study. However, generalisability of the findings are limited by the inherent limitations of this inquiry strategy. Further researches will allow to verify and eventually expand or complete the proposed model. Originality/value: This research contributes to a detailed understanding of the existing relations between Agile Project Management and Social Sustainability theory. This represents a completely new point of view in the studies of Sustainability of Project Management, suggesting the validity of a new stream of research focusing on Agile Project Management as a new project management process through which promote corporate sustainability.

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