Sample Masters Project Management Dissertation Proposal

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Understanding The Impact of Cultural Differences in International Projects

Executive Summary 

Project management is a challenging field, but international projects are even more difficult to handle due to many factors than local projects. in local projects, project managers are only required to look for cost, benefit, supply, people, etc. However, in international projects, there are many challenges, such as cultural gaps and communication gaps, which can lead to the failure of projects.

This research intends to study the challenges faced by project managers in international projects. The study will be based on both primary and secondary data to assess the factors accurately. The study will be based on interviews with project managers involved in international projects who have experience with such difficulties to talk about their experience and provide suggestions accordingly.

Introduction

Background

A project is defined as “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result” (Ika, 2009). Projects today have dramatically increased in various fields such as construction, I.T., design of the plan, research, and new product development.

Nowadays, there is a number of firms involved in carrying out global projects worldwide. Companies that extend their businesses abroad have to face cross-cultural communication, language barriers, ethical issues, and time zone, last but not least, gender issues. This research will put light on these issues and their resolution.

Research aim and objectives

This research aims to pinpoint some of the challenges associated with culture faced by project managers in carrying out international projects and how to respond to the problems effectively. The aim will be achieved through the following objectives;

  • To understand international project management.
  • To examine the difficulties faced by project managers in international projects.
  • To identify the impact of cultural differences in managing projects in foreign countries.
  • To discuss how the effect of these differences can be minimised.

Problem statement

For project managers, international projects require much higher efforts than local projects as there are many difficulties they face in terms of culture, language, communication, laws, preferences, etc. Therefore, it requires detailed planning before starting an international project.

There are even a few issues that cannot be resolved through planning, such as language and cultural difficulties. Therefore, this topic is selected because it holds great significance in project management. A project manager must be aware of difficulties he may face in international projects and how the adverse impact of such challenges can be minimised.

Proposal structure

The proposal is structured in a very simple and understandable way; the first section is the introduction in which the aim and objectives are discussed and the background of the study and structure of the proposal. The second section is a literature review in which an overview of previous studies is provided in detail. The third section is a research methodology in which methods that will be followed in the study are discussed, such as research design and data collection method and analysis, etc.

Literature Review

The majority of firms involve themselves in international projects because they expect higher profits or other benefits from international projects. However, Lientz and Rea (2012) stated that managing international projects is a huge responsibility and challenging task because every single thing from people, their perception and preference to culture is different.

Additionally, few countries in which one cannot operate without learning their language make communication very difficult. Project managers face huge challenges while managing international projects. They have to act according to the culture and environment and communicate with people, so they understand. Köster (2009) stated that different languages might result in a communication gap and misunderstanding, due to which project operations may get affected.

According to Burke (2013), project management is a huge field. International project management is a field in project management because it requires huge efforts and time to effectively and efficiently conduct such projects. Ika (2009, p.8) stated that one of the major challenges that project managers face in international projects is cultural diversities, specifically if they have to initiate a project in a country having a completely different culture. For example, a project manager from a Muslim country will find it very difficult to carry out a project in some European countries due to cultural differences.

Further, Meredith and Mantel (2011) documented that communication is the second most significant challenge for international projects; poor communication can cause the failure of a global project. These are the things that a project manager must consider and try hard to minimize their negative consequences. This research will help a project manager identify high risks in international projects and minimise their negative outcomes.

Research Methodology

Research design and approach

The research will be based on a qualitative design which refers to research based on insights and experience of participants. This design is selected because it will provide accurate results based on actual happenings and experiences of participants to assess the impact of cultural differences in international projects (Taylor and DeVault, 2015). Further, the research approach will be inductive, which makes information general because each participant will provide his own experience, and the result will be based on responses of all participants (Wiersma and Jurs, 2005).

Data collection method

Both primary and secondary data will be collected to make the research more reliable (Neuman, 2013). Primary data will be collected through the interview from project managers who are or have been involved in international projects. On the other hand, secondary data will be collected through academic journals and articles through genuine internet sources.

Sampling

Interviews will be conducted with 10 international project managers using convenience sampling because this sampling technique will help the researcher save his effort and time.

Data analysis plan

Data is qualitative and, therefore, will be analysed through thematic analysis. Thematic analysis is a tool used to extract meaning from participants’ responses (Cooper and Sun, 2006). Questions regarding their experience in international projects and challenges faced during such projects will be included in the questionnaire. They will also be asked to suggest how such adverse impacts of difficulties can be minimised.

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Expected outcome

Following is the expected outcome of the study;

  • Organisations and project managers will get increased knowledge regarding cross-culture and communication in international projects.
  • Major challenges in international projects will be assessed like communication, cross-culture, ethical issues, gender issues, and language barriers.
  • Project managers will understand the importance of tools to minimise the negative consequences of culture and communication barriers.
  • A major success factor, i.e., communication and its importance in global projects, will be assessed. Project managers will become aware of how the communication gap fails projects.

Conclusion

Global projects are important to be managed efficiently, or the firm’s reputation will be affected negatively in the global world. Project managers must understand the fact that managing global projects is not at all like managing local projects. There are issues that are not even considered in local projects because project managers do not face communication barriers and cultural differences.

Global projects involve people from one or two countries but multicultural teams are involved in global projects due to which multi cultures and different languages are used. These issues are significant and have significant impact on success rate of projects therefore, this study aims at identifying the importance of such issues and determining how these issues can be resolved.

References

Burke, R., 2013. Project management: planning and control techniques. New Jersey, USA.

Cooper, D.R., Schindler, P.S. and Sun, J., 2006. Business research methods (Vol. 9). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Ika, L.A., 2009. Project success as a topic in project management journals. Project Management Journal, 40(4), pp.6-19.

Köster, K., 2009. International project management. Sage.

Lientz, B. and Rea, K., 2012. International project management. Routledge.

Meredith, J.R. and Mantel Jr, S.J., 2011. Project management: a managerial approach. John Wiley & Sons.

Neuman, W.L., 2013. Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Pearson education.

Taylor, S.J., Bogdan, R. and DeVault, M., 2015. Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. John Wiley & Sons.

Wiersma, W. and Jurs, S.G., 2005. Research methods in education: An introduction.