Project Management Journal, Vol. 47, No. 5, 18–35
© 2016 by the Project Management Institute
Published online at www.pmi.org/PMJ
Disassembling and Reassembling
Project Management Maturity
Jan Christoph Albrecht, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
Konrad Spang, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany
As an instrument to assess and enhance organizational project management, project management maturity models (PMMMs) are well recognized in the professional field. They have also evoked remarkable scholarly interest (Besner & Hobbs, 2008; Wendler,
2012). Research in the context of PMMMs can be structured along three
phases (Albrecht & Spang, 2014): Initially, the research focused on the
development of PMMMs, dealt with assessment techniques, or described
case studies on the application of a particular model within an organization
(Grant & Pennypacker, 2006, p. 60, and the references therein). In the second
phase, scholars compared average maturity levels among selected industries
(e.g., Pennypacker & Grant, 2003; Cooke-Davies & Arzymanow, 2003). In the
most recent phase, research is focused on studying the benefits of project
management maturity (e.g., Ibbs & Reginato, 2002; Thomas & Mullaly, 2008;
Besner & Hobbs, 2008; Brookes, Butler, Dey, & Clark, 2014).
Walker (2014) states that there is still no agreed-on definition of project management maturity; therefore, it is difficult for scholars in this field to build on previous work and discuss their results based on previous literature. This situation
is further aggravated by the large number of PMMMs available, the fact that no
single model has gained broad acceptance (Schlichter, 2000, in Jugdev & Thomas,
2002a; Mullaly, 2006), and the limited transparency of the documentation of
several PMMMs (Mullaly, 2006; Becker, Knackstedt, & Pöppelbuß, 2009b, p. 3).
As a consequence, research on the benefits of PMMMs might arrive at a dead
end, and the concept of “project management maturity” might lose its relevance.
This article’s superordinated research question is: Which constituents
form the construct of “project management maturity” and how are they interrelated? The results of a qualitative content analysis of a number of PMMMs
are presented in order to arrive at a generic understanding of project management maturity. The underlying idea is that project management maturity—as
a theoretical construct—is documented in existing PMMMs. This idea was
conceived on the basis of definitional, theoretical, and empirical evidence.
As a result of our research, we identify two dimensions of maturity, which we
introduce to the project management literature. Furthermore, we investigate
one of these dimensions to provide greater detail about its nature. Our work
can help to align research in the area toward common understanding and
comparability of results. We discuss our findings by contrasting our approach
with other potential paths to understanding project management maturity.
The remainder of this article is organized as follows: We provide a brief
overview of the research on PMMMs along three phases; emphasis is put on the
latest phase, which deals with the benefits of project management maturity.
The use of several different PMMMs and the lack of a common understanding of project management maturity as a theoretical construct are stressed as
major shortcomings of this phase of research. We discuss qualitative content
The ability of single research efforts in the
field of project management maturity models (PMMMs) to build upon previous work
is strongly limited by the adoption of different conceptions of maturity. A number of
PMMMs were subjected to a qualitative content analysis in order to arrive at a generic
understanding of maturity. Maturity was
“disassembled” to single phrases and “
reassembled” to two dimensions of maturity.
One dimension was operationalized for use
in a quantitative field survey. We perceive
our analysis as one path to understanding
project management maturity and conclude
with an outlook on other potential paths.
KEYWORDS: project management
maturity; project management maturity
models; mixed research