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25 years of ‘sustainable projects’. What we know and what the literature says

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Luca Sabini, Professor Daniel Muzio, Dr Neil Alderman



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


‘Sustainability’ has become a hot topic in recent years, both within society in general and in academic research in particular. Its achievement is often associated with the need to renovate the traditional way business is conducted within organizations, and that need for change is often connected with projects and project management methodologies. Last few years have seen a huge increase of publications at the intersection of these two topics. Nevertheless, this field has become increasingly fragmented undermining a steady and consistent development. Aiming at balancing tensions between authors’ attempts for more ‘integration’ and the trajectories toward ‘fragmentation, we employed an extensive, systematic literature review of 770 publications from the period 1993 to 2017. Therefore, this review offers guidance to scholars less familiar with this concept who encounter SPM in their research.We suggest that the SPM literature can be understood by answering the following questions: (1) Why adopt sustainable business practices into projects? (2) What is the impact of sustainability on traditional project management practices? And (3) how is sustainability embedded in project practices?The three narrative themes illustrate the diverse views on the different aspects of SPM, allowing divergences, such as different philosophical underpinnings or levels of analysis, to flourish without eroding the clarity of the field.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sabini L, Muzio D, Alderman N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Project Management

Year: 2019

Volume: 37

Issue: 6

Pages: 820-838

Print publication date: 01/08/2019

Online publication date: 28/05/2019

Acceptance date: 06/05/2019

Date deposited: 10/07/2019

ISSN (print): 0263-7863

ISSN (electronic): 1873-4634

Publisher: Pergamon Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2019.05.002


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