Governance and support in the sponsoring of projects and programs (Crawford et al., 2008)

 Governance and support in the sponsoring of projects and programs (Crawford et al., 2008)

Crawford, Lynn; Cooke-Davies, Terry; Hobbs, Brian; Labuschagne, Les; Remington, Kaye, Chen, Ping: Governance and support in the sponsoring of projects and programs; in: Project Management Journal, Vol. 39 (2008), No. S1, p. S43-S55.

Sponsoring of projects and programs is increasingly getting attention in project management research. The authors argue that this is due to two factors – (1) recognition of contextual critical success factors and (2) push for corporate governance.
[I personally think that riding that dead horse Sarbox is questionable to say the least and I can think of so many reasons why corporations want some of their projects controlled thightly.]

This article presents findings from a qualitative survey, in which 108 interviews from 36 projects in 9 organisations were collected. Crawford et al. propose a general model of project sponsorship – as they put it: „The conceptual model has significant potential to provide organizations and sponsors with guidance in understanding and defining the effective contextual conduct of the sponsorship role.“

Their general model consists of two dimensions – Need for Governance and Need for Support. In this model each sponsor can find his/her spot in the matrix by assessing what his/her focus of representation is. Sponsors either represent the need of the permanent organisation (need for governance) or they represent the need of the temporary organisation (need for support). In the interviews conducted, they identified typical situations which require a shift in emphasising one or the other dimension.

When to emphasise governance?
Among the resons and examples given during the interviews were: the project is high risk for the parent organisation, project performs poorly, markets are changing rapidly, governance or regulation call for increased oversight, project team behaved illegaly or non-compliant, the project is mission-critical, or the project’s objective is to re-align the company to a new strategy.

When to emphasise support?
Typical situations given were: parent organisation fails to provide resources, project faces resistance in the organisation, different stakeholders impose conflicting objecitve on the project, lack of decision-making by the parent organisation, project team is weak or inexperienced, or the project shows early signs of difficulities.

Among the many open research questions not yet addressed are –
What are the essential attributes to effective sponsoring?
Which influence does one or the other strategie has on project success?
Which competencies are required in a sponsor?
What are the factors contributing to effective sponsorship performance?
What does the role of the sponsor in different contexts of programmes/projects/organisations look like?

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