Building Project Capabilities in PBOs : Lessons from the French Special Forces

in International Journal of Project Management, 29 (4)

ISSN : 0263-7863

par Melkonian, Tessa (1976-....) ; Picq, Thierry (1963-....)

2011 - 455-467 P. | En anglais

Project-based organizations (PBOs) have become a widespread form of organizations, ideally suited to deal with unstable and dynamic environments. However, PBOs inherently incorporate the conflicting needs of, on the one hand, the temporary nature of projects and on the other hand, the more permanent organizational setting that defends long-term development and intra-organizational coordination. To overcome this differentiation/integration dilemma, the recent literature suggests that PBOs must develop Project Capabilities, defined as the internal ability of a PBO to create lasting performance based on multiple short term projects. But we still know little about how such Project Capabilities may be efficiently developed in PBOs. In order to contribute to the capabilities perspective on PBOs, this paper proposes to approach Project Capabilities building processes as a multi-level and dynamic process, and offers as an illustration the case of a very specific PBO—the French Special Forces (SF). The Special Forces context provides a particularly interesting illustration of how to build Project Capabilities over time, to the extent that they have been carrying out successfully multiple projects in extreme contexts for more than 60 years.

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