Pyzhova Margarita

The first
chosen article is entitled “Building theories of project management: past
research, questions for the future” by Jonas Söderlund1. The
purpose of this paper is to evolve a discussion about theoretical problems of
project management research. Söderlund
asserts that such a debate would contribute to the further evolution of project
management as an academic discipline. The author also highlights five crucial
questions which should be acknowledged to build a sound knowledge of project
field and spotlight the current weaknesses of project organization research. These
questions are why project organizations exist, why they differ and how they
behave, what is their value and what determines their success.

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The second
article is headlined “Rational choice theory: toward a psychological, social
and material contextualization of human choice behavior” by Tom Burns and Ewa
Roszkowska2.
The aim of the text is to provide an analysis of the rational choice theory,
identify its main criticisms and limitations. The authors pinpoint several basic
initiatives to develop more realistic and widely applicable approaches and make
a comparison between the classic rational choice approach with an emerging one.

The method
used in these papers is quite similar. Both articles carry out a selective
review of theoretical literature, criticisms, and perspectives as well as
subject’s applications and formulations. They consider underpinning assumptions
of the theory and their modifications, critical arguments and theory’s limitations,
which contributes to greater applicability and realism. There is no integrated
approach presented in any article.

In the
article, Söderlund
infers that the field of project management is quickly expanding and that is
the reason it gets wider interest from other disciplines. Hence, there is a
need to create different projects theories but in a similar tradition – some universal
approaches and some of the specific aspects of particular projects. In other
words, this field is still open for additional perspectives and empirical
studies. Söderlund
stresses the importance of an internal debate on project management from a
theoretical standpoint and provides the directions for the future research.

He emphasizes that it
is impossible to build project theory based only on empirical data, there
should be a certain theoretical perspective. It was mentioned that such
perspectives can be found in other fields and they could be plausible in a
project research. The article states that further development of project field
might be beneficial not only for the management of single projects but for the
effectiveness of companies’ organizations as well.

The main results of the
second article are the identification of key constraints of rational choice
theory, its extensions, and adaptations. The article distinguishes several
kinds of constraints: the asocial individual, unrealistic cognitive and psychological
assumptions, robotic agency agent and amoral agent. In order to abolish them,
several modifications were created and a major contribution to these models was
made by behavioral economists and social scientists. So, Burns and Roszkowska’s
work demonstrates that rational economic individual with whom much of the
modern economics was built, was a mostly fictional character.

The most important
application of the results is the possibility to overcome some of the rational
choice theory constraints. Also, the article declares an agenda for the future
theory evolution and provides a systematic review of the current state of
rational choice theory research.

In conclusion, we can
say that rational choice theory plays an important role in the project field.
It is vital to understand how people behave to run projects successfully. It is
crucial to know what kind of reaction to expect when making any the decision. Additionally,
Söderlund while
answering his five key questions mentioned that usually, people tend to adhere to
relatively rationalistic approach, which sometimes is not applicable.

1 Söderlund, J.
(2004) Building theories of project management: past research, questions for
the future. International Journal of Project Management, 22, 183-191.

2 Burns, T. and Roszkowska, E.
(2016) Rational Choice Theory: Toward a Psychological, Social, and Material
Contextualization of Human Choice Behavior. Theoretical Economics Letters, 6,
195-207.