As a set of assiduous efforts to produce an unparalleled result, Project Management is defined by PMI as “…the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”, while PMI’s precise description is that “Pproject management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of 47 logically grouped project management processes, …” (PMI, p. 5).13
What makes a project successful remains a question and so does “successful,” which is attributable to “project” in this context and is, therefore, open to debate. Being an adjective, “successful” carries a different amount of weight with stakeholders depending on their views and attitudes and respective cultural background.
14 15 According to PMI, success of any project “…should be measured in terms of completing the project within the constraints of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, and risk as approved between the project managers and senior management” (PMI, p. 35).
Another term to consider is “project performance,” a measurable indicator to assess the project against approved limits or baselines.
13 Consequently, success factors are the circumstances that are conducive to the completion of the project within its constraints, thereby causing what comes out as a success. Cooke-Davies has identified a total of 12 success factors for project management in general. The ninth factor in row gives the impression that the process of delivering benefits to the project customer per se has a decisive importance in the success of the project thereof.16
It is found to be difficult to disagree with Cooke-Davies’ point of view pointing at success factors behind project management as “…those inputs to the management system that lead directly or indirectly to the success of the project or business…” (Cooke-Davies, 2002, p. 185).
Subsequently, success factors would open the way to impact factors to be devised as inputs that have an ambivalent effect on the successful integration of project customers representing the cultures that might be astonishingly divergent from one another.
Neither scholars nor practitioners are able to arrive at a common agreement on the unified definition of culture. Their views seem to be approximate to each other on how Hofstede and Trompenaars/Hampden-Turner define culture. “Culture … is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. Culture is learned, not innate. It derives from one’s social environment rather than one’s genes.” (Hofstede, p. 6)18
The latter definition by Geerd Hofstede combines major aspects of the studied into a single substance and, consequently, may be complemented with the following: “Our own culture is like water to a fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it. … a fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it.” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, p. 27)
19 An important provided by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner gives an insight into the ways the cultural predisposition of a human being impacts on the overall awareness of cultural differences.
Although this study makes the focus on national culture, it by no means diminishes organizational, professional, or ethnical cultures, for they all remain central to project management, but are not included in order to avoid miscomprehensions and/or confusion. Thus, the terms intercultural and cross-cultural are used synonymously in this thesis.
To further elaborate on the topic studied and clarify if there is room for the identified factors to be accommodated in real world projects, and look for – and discover – additional impact factors to make intercultural customers affiliated with their respective cultural segment, a qualitative empirical inquiry was developed. The decision that followed was in favor of drafting a semi-structured interview guide aimed at identifying intercultural challenges to project managers in the course of their interaction with project customers. For its part, a structured interview is not about putting open-ended questions that are vital to comprehend how national culture brings influence to bear on project-client relationship. On the contrary, an unstructured interview is likely to lack for the concentration on the specific question, i.e. the topic of study, to be investigated. Finally, a semi-structured interview provides the interviewer with an opportunity to follow new trains of thought and ideas while conducting an interview and hence to discover more information pertaining to the intermixing of project customers. 26 The interview guide was written having taken into consideration the experience of Myers with latent problems that were encountered when an interview with a project manager or another stakeholder was being conducted (2013; pp.125-126).
During the interview the above focal questions were complemented by deepening and probing questions. For the
purpose of this article the responses to only these two sets of questions were analyzed.
In order to reduce the risk of misunderstanding the interviews were conducted with the richest medium available,
which included face-to-face interviews, video and teleconferencing and phone calls. The interview guide included
questions that smoothened the entry into the conversation so that both parts shared personal information before the
formal interview started. This was in order to improve trust among the conversation partners, which was additionally
fostered by assuring to all interviewees that their information will be recorded for scientific purposes only. Project
managers are usually among the busiest employees in companies, therefore the authors had to ensure that the
interview would not exceed 90 minutes. Elite and self-selection bias are problems that all qualitative researcher sface.27 The interviewees were selected from the authors’ extended professional networks on networking platforms
like Xing and LinkedIn or resulted from snowballing techniques. During the development of the interview guide the
interviewer took great care not to introduce any theoretical ideas that would distort the report of the interviewee.
During the testing phase the guide was revised three times and during the interviewing phase another four versions
with smaller adjustments were produced. The interview guide was translated into three languages in order to give interviewees the possibility to speak in a familiar language. The selection criteria for interviewees were the