A Methodology for Investigating the "Actual" Course of a Project : the Case of a Polar Expedition

Abstract : The purpose of this chapter is to present a methodology for investigating the “actual” course of a project, in this case a polar expedition. We are therefore working within the “Project as Practice” framework (Blomquist et al., 2010). This system investigates the practices of actors in terms of Bourdieu (1977), that is, practices expressed strictly in situ, and of the Chicago School (Mead, Blumer, Strauss), which articulates individual and collective concerns from an “interactionist” standpoint. By attempting to point out the collective action of organizing in its full actualization, this observatory follows roughly that used by Weick. We investigate organizing and study the conditions through which it occurs by attempting to resolve the problems associated with the study of the activity itself, as well as consider the individual and collective dimensions of the organizational dynamic. In the words of Karl Weick (2003), we must try to understand “how organizational life unfolds,” specifically in situ. How do the actors individually and collectively construct meaning for their actions and what organizational dynamics are used? While classic methodology focuses primarily on “ways of saying” (Hlady Rispal, 2002), the qualitative methodology proposed here belongs to a new approach that focuses on “ways of doing” (Lièvre, Rix, 2009). In our attempt to address the difficult question of how to pass from an individual focus to a collective one, and vice versa, we propose an observatory consisting of two complimentary investigation tools: the Multimedia Logbook (MLB), which focuses on the collective, and the Situated Practices Objectifying System (SPOS), which focuses on the individual. Since each tool requires the personal and specific involvement of a single researcher, the overall system therefore depends on the simultaneous involvement of two researchers. The system is based on methodological considerations that date to 2000 and were part of a logistical research program for extreme situations, specifically polar expeditions. Polar expeditions are considered project activities (Garel, 2003) with exemplary characteristics for research because: 1.The associated context provides for more readable phenomena because the logic of the actors is pushed to the limit 2.They allow for participant observation that is as close as possible to the situations experienced by the actors. First, we list the obstacles that arise when investigating actual organizing as it occurs. Secondly, we present the observatory by defining each of its tool, and discussing how they work together and complement one another.
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Contributor : Géraldine Rix-Lièvre <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 29, 2016 - 3:13:28 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 11:07:31 AM

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Géraldine Rix-Lièvre, Pascal Lièvre. A Methodology for Investigating the "Actual" Course of a Project : the Case of a Polar Expedition. Monique Aubry, Pascal Lièvre. Project Management in Extreme Situations: Lessons from Polar Expeditions, Military and Rescue Operations and Wilderness Explorations, Taylor & Francis, pp.59-72, 2017, 9781-4822-0882-5. ⟨hal-01423354⟩

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