Robust project portfolio management: capability evolution and maturity

Catherine P. Killen*, Robert A. Hunt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to increase understanding of project portfolio management (PPM) capability evolution, in order to guide the implementation and ongoing development of robust capabilities. Design/methodology/approachThis research adopts a dynamic capabilities perspective and draws on organizational learning theory to investigate the path-dependent nature of PPM implementation and development. It employs a multiple-case study of six organizations. FindingsEach of the case organizations reported a high level of evolution and change within their PPM capabilities, both purposeful and unintended. Potential “fragilities” are identified, such as the emergence of a “success trap” that inhibits explorative innovation and difficulties in stopping poor projects to reallocate resources. Based on findings from the literature and the multiple-case study, a capability maturity model is proposed to assist in the development of robust PPM capabilities that will continue to evolve and stay relevant in dynamic environments. Research limitations/implicationsThe research is based on six organizations and may not be representative of all environments. The proposed maturity model has only been used in initial trials to evaluate capability maturity, and its use in guiding capability development has not been studied. Further research is required to test and evolve the maturity model. Practical implicationsThe maturity model will be of interest to managers as a tool to analyze PPM maturity and identify areas for further development or to guide new PPM implementations. Originality/valueThe proposed maturity model extends existing maturity models by incorporating organizational learning capabilities, by recognizing antecedents for maturity stages that build upon other capabilities, and by including steps to recognize and avoid potential “fragilities” and to ensure robust PPM performance over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-151
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2013


  • Capability maturity model
  • Corporate strategy
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Exploitation
  • Exploration
  • Learning organizations
  • Maturity
  • Project management
  • Project portfolio management


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