Dan Eisen, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development
This study explores how project managers, working for private federal IT contractors, experience and understand managing the development of software applications for U.S. federal government agencies. Very little is known about how they manage their projects in this challenging environment. Software development is a complex task and only grows in complexity when the software is being developed for a federal agency. By using a phenomenographic approach to describe participants’ experiences, this study shows the complexity of the participants’ relationships with their projects. Results show that managing technical projects and staff has to do with what project managers do and the ways they manage. This study paints a picture of the increasingly complex perceptions of managing outsourced federal software development projects and the relationships of the ways of managing as they relate to project managers’ role perceptions. This study also demonstrates that managing in this complex environment is more than just an exercise in command-and-control project management approaches, methods, and tools.