A comparison of leadership roles in internal IT projects versus outsourcing projects

Published date01 December 2005
Date01 December 2005
AuthorPetter Gottschalk,Jan Terje Karlsen
Subject MatterEconomics,Information & knowledge management,Management science & operations
A comparison of leadership roles
in internal IT projects versus
outsourcing projects
Petter Gottschalk and Jan Terje Karlsen
Norwegian School of Management, Sandvika, Norway
Purpose – This study investigates the emphasis placed on different managerial roles by IT project
managers. Six managerial roles were applied in this research: personnel leader, resource allocator,
spokesman, entrepreneur, liaison and monitor. With changing business environments, the locus of
value creation is no longer within the boundaries of a single firm, but occurs instead at the nexus of
relationships between parties. With the growing importance of pooling knowledge resources,
knowledge management will have to transcend organizational boundaries in exchanges such as IT
outsourcing relationships. We would, therefore, expect to find differences in our two surveys.
Design/methodology/approach – Two surveys were conducted in Norway to investigate these
management roles.
Findings – In the first survey, which focused on project management roles in internal IT projects, the
respondents emphasized the personnel leader role significantly more than other managerial roles. In
the second survey, which focused on project management roles in IT outsourcing projects, the
respondents emphasized the spokesman role. The empirical results provide evidence that project
managers in internal IT projects are more internally oriented than project managers in outsourcing
Research limitations/implications – Future research should also take into account culture and
structure dimensions as well as the specific industry of the IT project.
Practical implications This research concludes that project managers of both internal IT projects
and outsourcing projects should be more externally oriented to meet future challenges.
Originality/value – The contingent approach to leadership roles is applied in this research paper.
Keywords Entrepreneurs,Leadership, Knowledge management,Project management
Paper type Research paper
Information technology (IT) functions of all sizes and in all industries face many new
challenges in today’s rapidly changing environment. Multiple and flexible ways of
working require organizational structures to be flexible as well. Projects are a flexible
and efficient way of working, whether the goal is to design, install, reengineer or
reorganize technology initiatives. However, IT projects are often driven by aggressive
deadlines and periods of frequent change (Murch, 2000). Projects are temporary
organizational structures and unique, goal-oriented work systems where technical,
procedural, organizational, and human elements are integrated. To get the job done,
resources must be identified and allocated, and activities must be properly organized
and structured in accordance with business and technical requirements.
The project management approach to solving IT problems and opportunities
involves stakeholders such as CEOs, clients, IT managers, project managers, end-u sers
and consultants (Ko et al., 2005). Each role and responsibility of these stakeholders
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregister www.emeraldinsight.com/0263-5577.htm
Internal IT vs
Industrial Management & Data
Vol. 105 No. 9, 2005
pp. 1137-1149
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/02635570510633220

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