The wisdom of conversations: Existential Hermeneutic Phenomenology (EHP) for project managers

Bradley Rolfe*, Steven Segal, Svetlana Cicmil

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper introduces Existential Hermeneutic Phenomenology (EHP) as an approach to reflecting on and studying the lived experience of project management practice. We argue that an EHP way of being is an effective approach for any practitioner confronted by significant existential disruptions to their practice. We develop our proposition of ‘the wisdom of conversations’ as an EHP enabled way for project managers' practical coping with otherwise potentially inhibiting existential disruptions. We understand EHP as a holistic philosophical practice which: 1. allows making the ‘lived experience’ of project management practice explicit for reflection, and 2. is available and useful to practitioners in the field. Heidegger provides the theoretical base through a language of existential categories, which are dimensions of being-in-the-world. Gendlin offers a practical method for accessing the states of being that Heidegger describes. Rorty offers promise, the ability to disclose new possibilities or ways of being-in-the-world through irony and practices of re-description.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-748
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Anxiety
  • Existential
  • Gendlin
  • Heidegger
  • Hermeneutic
  • Redescription
  • Rorty


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