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Our research applies paradox theory to a project management construct to help project management researchers and practitioners understand the tensions that can exist between project success and client satisfaction. Our research highlights that although project success and client satisfaction are both present within a project management construct, they also belong to different functional systems. Project success and client satisfaction have different systemic-discourses and use different language games to convey information. These distinctions can create latent and sometimes salient tensions within the project management construct that project managers must understand, embrace, and work with.
We have used a Grounded Theory (GT) methodology to explore the lived experience of project managers, and from this have identified a phenomenon which we have termed project management yinyang.
Project management yinyang is the state that exists when both project success and Client satisfaction are tightly coupled within the project management construct. Project management yinyang highlights that these two phenomena cannot be viewed as separate elements because the ‘seed’ of each exists within the other. And to truly achieve one, you must also achieve the other.
Our findings indicate that in order to create project management yinyang the project manager must embrace a paradoxical yet holistic philosophy. They must understand the complementarity, interdependency, and structural coupling that exists between the positivist and interpretivist paradigms within the project management construct. They must understand how satisfaction (Yin) and success (Yang) are created through focus. Furthermore, they must understand how project management yinyang is separate from, but borne from, the convergence of the other two elements.
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