Moving from Corporate Strategy to Project Strategy

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As mentioned previously in the introductions of “Linking Corporate Strategy to Project Strategy”, the compilations of articles critiqued and analyzed were selected to invoke a cognitive exploration of the events, conditions, or interrelationships between corporate strategy and project strategy. The first of five literature reviews in this contextual analysis begins with a discussion of the work by Morris and Jamison who expand on the idea of moving strategy from the corporate level to the project level. Comments to the post are greatly appreciated. The article written by Morris and Jamison was funded by the Project Management Institute (PMI), industry, and academia to address the way corporate strategy is circulated using portfolio, program, and project management. The authors derive data from four case studies and used questionnaire data from a survey of PMI members. (For more details about the PMI, visit .)

Strategy is constructed at the top of an organization and usually has long-term implications. The strategy is handed down to a strategic business unit (SBU) where the initiatives are grouped into portfolios of programs and/or projects. The programs and/or projects are important for the implementation of strategy. The authors elaborate on the terms deliberate and emergent strategy as a means to explain the interactions of programs or projects to the enterprise strategy. Deliberate is formal and planned such as a capital expenditure project. Whereas emergent is reactionary and informal, creating new conditions that influence and shape the intended strategy.

The involvement of senior management with program management is crucial to the success of a strategy. Senior management must ensure that the functional organization understands the position of program management within the business management model. Also, senior management often serves as sponsors of deliberate programs and must listen to the feedback provide from the program managers for adequate resources needed to deliver effectively. The authors indicate that resource management is a critical factor in moving from corporate strategy to project implementation.

Through research, the authors? clearly depict the context of portfolios, programs, and projects with the following extraction:

?The majority of projects take place as part of a portfolio of several projects or

programs. Project portfolio management is the art and science of applying a set

of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a collection of projects or programs

to meet or exceed the needs and expectations of an organization?s investment strategy.?

The four case studies encompassed a global aerospace company, a division of a global pharmaceutical company, a group within a global financial services company, and an international transportation (construction) company. The purpose of the case studies was to discover how corporate strategy is circulated into programs and projects. In order to substantiate the evidence gathered from the case studies, a survey was introduced in a number of PMI Chapters in European countries. PMI members answered a series of thirty two multiple choice questions regarding processes, practices, and people issues involved in moving strategy from the corporate level to the projects.

Both the case studies and the survey concluded that most companies recognized the position of program manager as a key business process in the business model. However, the level of rigor depended on the industry. In general, project strategy was found to be managed more dynamically. For example, because of the high attrition rate in the pharmaceutical industry, the strategic alignment is more emergent and flexible.

The authors concluded that in general all companies created objectives, goals, and strategies and recognized portfolio management, although the meaning of portfolio management varied. The survey found that most of the members perceived it as a way to organize projects around a common vision or theme instead of a selection of strategically balanced projects. In three of the case studies, portfolio management was found as a process for selecting and prioritizing ?the right projects?.

Project strategy management was found to be a widely utilized practice. Most typically, organizations documented the project strategy as a combination of several artifacts that are compiled into the project management plan. Capabilities, processes, and procedures existed at the project level as a means to maintain program and/or project strategy. However, executive leadership is expected to drive strategy throughout the hierarchical business context. After all, the success of the corporate strategy is dependent on the vehicle for executing that strategy.

Executive leaders must make sure that strategy is not contained in a bubble at the top of the organization. The executives are expected to understand which vehicles for strategic execution are readily available and which vehicles must be developed for future initiatives. In order to move corporate strategy to the portfolio, program, and project levels, managers must align the business strategy with the project strategy and develop a framework for implementing the strategy effectively.


Morris, P., & Jamieson, A. (2005, December). Moving from corporate strategy to project

strategy. Project Management Journal, 36(4), 5-18. Retrieved October 12, 2008,

from EBSCO MegaFILE database.