Thomas Grammig

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Project Management - Project Planning
Each development organization operates particular management and planning tools, for example, so-called Log-frame formats.  Most organizations adapted a version of Log-frames and some seek further recognizable difference for parts of their operations.  Still development organizations are lesser ‘fad generators’ than business schools.  Development assistance contains tensions, especially between ownership and donorship, empowerment and accountability, transparency and power, which explain the ever-present search for further refinement of planning tools.  Aaron Wildavsky’s timeless account of project implementation still is paradigmatic for what Peter Berger defined as Pyramids of Sacrifice.

Project implementation can be viewed as a target, an object to discover, a given to take into account, or an ingredient of monitoring.  In different parts of an organization one of these four prevails and the organization as a whole can gain if these differences were better recognized.  I believe the dynamics of implementation is often underestimated and seen as unattainable.

Analytical steps in design, management, monitoring and evaluation

Project parameters are generally determined based on assumptions about the subject matter or the participants but implementation remains a black box and parameters are changed only ad hoc.  It is not possible to predict which parameter is effective.  Elliot Berg calls this the "but it worked in Peru" syndrome.  Only the relations between the specific project participants give a parameter causal influence.  In my experience the persistence of the black box varies much between cognitive reasons and conscious compromises for organisational imperatives.  Therefore, linking project activities to different parameters very often leads to new directions and new adaptation to the local context.  Results-based management is then less promising than current impact evaluation experiments.  Differences between professions or organizations are of the same nature and when national differences increase cultural distance even more, the force of day-to-day and idiosyncratic mechanisms strengthens further and, at the same time, adds opportunities to discover unique tools.

Project management with latent processes

The cultural distance between foreigners and locals and the ability to reflect it in the team's work is often decisive.  Management tools are effective only when they allow project participants to agree how this distance can be reflected.  Describing the subjectivity of the locals and of the foreigners can reveal how these are connected and I define a landscape for management tools that comprises the technical objects, how they circulate, the roles in the team and the purposes for the project context.  Here for a low-tec and informal sector project, "Appui Technique" in Chad, and a high-tec and chemical industry project, "Autogeneración" in Mexico, where I illustrate how all particular issues of project implementation are made useful for the management goals. 

Intersubjectivity and the Management Landscape


Wildavsky A. 1984, Implementation: how great expectations in Washington are dashed in Oakland, University of California Press.

Berg E. 2000, "Why Arn't Aid Organizations Better Learners ?", In: Carlsson J. and Wohlgemuth L., Learning in Development Co-operation, Stockholm: Almquist.

Andrews M., L.Pritchett, and M.Woolcock 2012, Escaping Capability Traps through Problem-driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA), Harvard U. Kennedy School - Faculty Research Working Paper Series, Cambridge Mass.