Six decades of project management research: Thematic trends and future opportunities

Milind Padalkar, Saji Gopinath
  • International Journal of Project Management, October 2016, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2016.06.006

Research in Project Management: Where do we go from here?

What is it about?

This is a two-stage review of project management literature. In stage 1, we review meta-studies in project management and argue that these 'narratives in time sequence' describe the progress of the field. We show that the field shows three distinct but overlapping eras of determinism, empiricism, and non-determinism. Stage 2 reviews a large sample of recent papers to examine the relative subscriptions to these three eras and shows the recent research to be dominated by empiricism and shows signs of saturation and fractionation; while the non-determinism continues to be sporadic. We propose further avenues of making research enquiry more productive.

Why is it important?

We use a novel two-stage method for literature review that yields findings which can be considered as robust. We propose a new measure for assessing relative influence of categorically defined thematic clusters. The research directions from the study are anchored in a large sample of recent papers, and offer useful prescriptions for future researchers.


Dr Milind Shrikant Padalkar
Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode

This work is grounded in the perspective of non-determinism and argues for adoption of methodologies that are aligned to this perspective. I contend that the deterministic MS/OR methods or survey-based empirical methods are unlikely to yield robust theory-building efforts, and a methodological stance different from these methods would support richer research questions.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Milind Shrikant Padalkar