Lasting temporariness: Projects as capability bridges across time and organizational levels


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Academy of Management. Annual Meeting Proceedings


Academy of Management

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This study reveals how learning and experiences accumulated in temporary projects contribute to capability development and change of strategic orientation in project-based organizations. We argue that capability development in project-based organizations must rest upon an understanding of projects as “capability bridges”, thus contrasting extant literature’s common treatise of the temporariness inherent in project-based organizing. This paper presents an analytical framework that identifies how capabilities develop over time and across levels in specific contexts. The empirical data is derived from a longitudinal case study of capability development in an international project-based professional service firm. The case study demonstrates how projects function as bridges connecting both past, present and future, and individual-, project and- organization levels, thus illustrating the temporality of capabilities, on the one hand, and the multi-level features of capabilities, on the other hand. Thus, this study shows how knowledge and experiences accumulated from past and current projects influence the formation of future capabilities and strategies. Simultaneously, anticipations of the future influence current activities and the utilization of past project experiences. This leads to an improved understanding of how capabilities are developed across organizational levels and time.



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