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Considering representational gaps - how subsidiaries' relationship affects multi-location project management

: Seus, Fanny; Weissenberger-Eibl, Marion A.; Zern-Breuer, Rubina


International journal of project organisation & management : IJPOM 12 (2020), No.4, pp.321-345
ISSN: 1740-2891
ISSN: 1740-2905
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
international project management; distributed teams; headquarters - subsidiary relations; representational gaps; shared cognition

Our study of project cooperation between two company subsidiaries addresses everyday challenges in project management with a new focus on shared cognition. By conducting 36 in-depth interviews, we found that the relationship between the subsidiaries is an important factor when analysing the collaboration of engineering teams working at different locations. Different perspectives on the joint project arise from having different roles; due to this incompatible mental models, or representational gaps, are produced. Grounded in inconsistent assumptions, goal conflicts and divergent expectations are created. We advance project management research by identifying the relationship of the working groups in question that results from the respective roles the subsidiaries play in the companys strategy to be an important driver of typical challenges in project management. Consequently, we propose a model that acknowledges the influence of the site strategy on project cooperation, an aspect of everyday project management, rather neglected so far.