The Core Competencies of Effective Project Execution: The Challenge of Diversity
International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 19, No. 8, pp. 471-483, 2001
Posted: 12 Jun 2011
Date Written: 2001
The successful planning and execution of large projects relies on the flexibility of engineering-construction-procurement (EPC) firms. It is argued that the effective management of this flexibility depends on the acquisition and development of a set of core competencies. Field and archival research in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Malaysia, and Japan, are used to modify and extend current core competency theory to the execution of large projects. The research discloses four distinct groups of core competencies: entrepreneurial, technical, evaluative, and relational. These core competencies support core project processes that structure activities and routines involved in project development and delivery. We describe each core competency, and we examine how they impact core processes and through them project performance. We argue that the strategy of EPC firms evolves under the pressure of two opposing forces. Firms experience pressure to seek project opportunities in diverse areas and regions with a view to creating a robust project portfolio, and they experience pressure to remain close to their core competencies in order to minimize costs and maximize the probability of gaining individual contracts. Three types of strategies develop in response to these opposing pressures: focusing strategy which is competency driven; switching strategy which is opportunity driven; and combining strategy which attempts to strike a balance between the two imperatives.
Keywords: EPC firms, engineering construction, core competencies, IMEC, project based organizations, project portfolio
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