Businesses are no longer what they used to be. This statement covers not only the "disposable organization"
mentioned previously, but also holds true for more traditional companies. We have tended to think of them as some kind of permanent entities providing a high degree of stability for our economies with
employment in personnel and with heavy investments in machinery and in real estate. No longer so, at least not in a traditional sense! Recent empirical results
that the ongoing transformation of businesses is very fast indeed. Activities mentioned in current literature as well as in material from professional associations on organization in an industrial context, like outsourcing, insourcing, strategic alliances, joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions, and movements concerning efficiency in terms of "back to
competencies" have become increasingly more
over the last
The examples in this enumeration are by no means unequivocal. A
simple and straightforward joint advertising campaign has been labeled "strategic alliance" even though it is time delimited, but at the same time the strategic alliance denomination is also used for very far-reaching cooperation. However, this is a nuance only. The main point is that there is a definite movement among business organizations. Sometimes elements of that movement
to the activities enumerated previously are about projects or can be described as projects. A "joint venture" is probably the most obvious example of that type, but several of the others also have definite project-like
. The popular trends include a fair amount of projectization.
A study under the auspices of the University of
, England, considering major changes in industrial organizations in the United States (US), Japan, and Western Europe seems to confirm these tendencies
in the literature by
and characterizing the major changes in the way these industrial organizations have organized their activities through empirical investigations. The Western Europe material has been presented in an article by Whittington et al. (1999). In the home page of the research
at Warwick (http://www.wbs.warwick.ac.uk/HotTopics/HT6.html) it is said that over a four-year period, outsourcing was increased by 65 percent of the companies. At the same time IT-related investments have increased in more than 80 percent of the same set of organizations. To top everything else off,
organization is up by 175 percent. Generally, the activities described in the article have one thing in common, i.e., the supposedly permanent organization focus is
involved in activities of a kind seemingly leading to a destabilization of self. (Among other things it is this destabilization that makes the denomination "permanent organization" inappropriate. Possibly that choice of words refers to a situation long since passed, but even though there could be no such thing as a permanent organization anyway, the denomination will be used at times. The reader should remember though that "permanent"
means more permanent than others.)
One measure that supports the projectization notion is that temporary employment is increasing, at least in the European Union. In 1995 approximately 11 percent of the total workforce in the Union had temporary employment (SOU 1999, 27). There were substantial regional variations with Spain on top with 35 percent having temporary employment. However, the general share has been increasing over the
fifteen years and even though no statistics are available concerning the last
of the previous
, there is no reason to believe that the share has decreased lately. (It should be
that "temporary employment" and "project employment" are two different things. The latter should be regarded as a
of the former, but the former includes such things as seasonal variation in employment needs as well. Furthermore, it should be noted that the measure says nothing about people working in projects.)
Traditional organizations are the birthplaces for new ventures. The organizations become necessary conditions for the changes taking place no matter the origin of the changes, per se. Some people would probably argue that the tendencies described should be understood in terms of institutional change or fads
the organizational world. The movements concerning quality and environmental concerns, just to mention a couple of obvious examples, could most probably be
and described in terms of institutions or fads. No matter the origins of the changes, the traditional organizations are necessary conditions for the developments.
If projects are action oriented it is probably fair to say that traditional organizations,
business organizations are decision oriented. At least many
on business organizations have decisions as a fundamental mechanism. The
of the decision orientation is that these organizations have the facilities to
upon decisions and generate alternative
in a decision situation. Such facilities are needed when it comes to generating new project ventures. Traditional organizations are properly endowed to give birth to projects.
We will now leave the discussion concerning how the business world as such is changing in an overall pattern and focus the relationships between projects and their
from a different angle. The question concerns how knowledge generated in project action is handled and can be handled.