The role of projects in shaping businesses capabilities and structure since the 1960s
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBusiness History. 2023, 1-24. 10.1080/00076791.2023.2204230
Project studies have emerged as a thriving subfield of management and organisation research. Central to project studies, is the idea that engaging in projects has long-term effects on businesses capabilities and structure. While understanding organisational change has been central to business history’s mission, historians have paid little attention to the role projects play in shaping organisations. We address this gap. Based on three cases, we analyse why and how businesses in different contexts increased their engagement with projects, whether their engagement was part of a conscious strategy, and how it affected their structure and capabilities. The article contributes to business history by showing how concepts developed in project studies cast new light on projects as a historical phenomenon and provides a valuable theoretical framework for explaining organisational change. Based on this, we suggest projects constitute a fruitful avenue for further historical research and interdisciplinary dialogue with management and organisation research.