Project Management Journal
Special Issue: Project and Innovation Management: Bridging Contemporary Trends in Theory and Practice
Volume 47, Issue 2, pages 41-61, April/May 2016

Floating in Space? On the Strangeness of Exploratory Projects

Sylvain Lenfle, University of Cergy-Pontoise (THEMA - UMR 8184) , Cergy, France & Management Research Center, Ecole Polytechnique (i3-CRG, UMR CNRS 9217), Palaiseau, France

Abstract: This article deals with the management of exploratory projects and relies on a case study of the space industry to study their supposed strangeness compared with more traditional projects. Indeed, exploratory projects seem to be floating because they lack clear objectives, carefully defined work packages and phases, risk management plans, and so forth. We rely on advances in design theory to demonstrate that exploratory projects actually follow a different logic of expansion that can be managed. We conclude by discussing the contribution of the project mode to the structuring of exploration processes.

To cite: Lenfle, S. (2016), Floating in Space? On the Strangeness of Exploratory Projects. Proj Mgmt Jrnl, 47: 47–61. doi: 10.1002/pmj.21584