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This paper addresses the question of how projects are organized and how these management structures impact project success. Despite its widely accepted managerial importance, empirical studies could not provide significant evidence of a relationship between implemented management structures and project success. A major problem in finding meaningful empirical evidence is the conceptualization of the structure measure, which is derived from a typologist's perspective. In this study, we follow the taxonomists' perspective and empirically develop an alternative taxonomy of project management structures. We empirically compare both approaches, by using two different samples, collected in the United States and Germany, including together over 600 projects. Our empirical findings show that the validity of the widely accepted project organization typology is in question. The use of cluster analyses reveals an alternative taxonomy that encompasses five structural types, differentiated by the entities managing them: project coordinator, supervised project coordinator, autonomous project manager, supervised project manager, and autonomous functional project manager. The results strongly support the widely accepted proposition of a relationship between project organization and project success. The emerging taxonomy of project organization configurations enriches the theoretical and conceptual discussions of organizing projects and unravels the multiple aspects involved in organizing the execution of projects.
Date of Publication: May 2010