Elaborations on the role of project owner: introducing project owners type 1 and 2
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Original versionInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business. 2018, 11 (3), 827-844. 10.1108/IJMPB-08-2017-0102
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to study how the project owner role is described in the literature, and how the role is carried out in practice. In particular, the author studies the project owner role in relation to project execution and benefit realization. Design/methodology/approach Based on a literature review, the author proposes a model for the relationships between the project owner, project manager and the operation of project delivery. The author then uses the model to describe the empirical results derived from a mapping of project owner responsibilities in a set of Norwegian information technology projects. Findings The author defines a project owner type 1 as a project owner that is focused on the business case and has responsibility for both project delivery and benefit realization. This project owner is the type described in most of the literature. The author further defines a project owner type 2 as a project owner that is mainly concerned with supporting the project manager and enabling project delivery. This is the type of project owner found in the empirical study. Research limitations/implications The author identified a mismatch between the project management literature and observed practice. Practical implications There is a need to clarify the type of project owner role referred to in different contexts. Different project owners will have a different set of incentives and priorities. It is important to make sure that both investment costs and benefits (i.e., the complete business case), are seen in close relation to each other and not as separate undertakings. Originality/value There is a need for a distinction between two types of project owners. This study proposes a framework for the description, analysis and implementation of project governance, with a special focus on the project owner role.