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Behavioral Competences of Agile Project Managers: A Case Study of R&D Projects in the Swedish Biotechnology Sector
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Projects that work in complex, uncertain, and dynamic environments, such as research and development (R&D) projects, require a different approach to project management. New approaches have been developed in the last decades as a response to traditional project management to address the uniqueness of the project characteristics. In the mid-1990s, Agile Project Management (APM) was introduced which aimed to address projects that face high levels of complexity and uncertainty. APM aims to develop innovative and complex products that face a constant changing environment.


APM enables a project manager to cope with the challenges presented by R&D projects by delivering customer value through innovative products and a leadership-collaboration management style, which would require certain competences. Traditional PM has focused on the importance of technical competences for successful PM. However, in the last decades two more set of competences have gained importance, contextual and behavioral competences. Several studies have demonstrated the importance of behavioral competences for project managers dealing with highly complex and uncertain projects. Competences such as leadership, communication, flexibility, and creativity have been identified as essential behavioral competences for project managers in turbulent project environments.


This study aims to show what behavioral competences are needed for an agile project manager engaged in R&D projects in the Swedish biotechnology sector. In this way, the research will extend the existing evidence of APM and behavioral competences to a new industry, due to the limited focus of the current research on software development agile projects. The methodology of the study follows a qualitative strategy and a case study design that focuses on the biotechnology sector in the Umeå region. The study achieves an intensive examination of the behavioral competences through a semi-structured interviews method with respondents from five organizations, which represent different segments of the sector.


The findings of the research study show that organizations in the biotechnology sector in Sweden use APM to deliver R&D projects. These organizations follow the APM characteristics to address complexity, uncertainty, and dynamism in R&D projects. In addition, the findings present evidence that behavioral competences are highly important for agile project managers in the biotechnology sector, and considered as the most important competences. Furthermore, the biotechnology sector acknowledges the importance of four competences: creativity, communication, flexibility, and leadership. The four identified behavioral competences allow an agile project manager to enable APM characteristics such as iterative and adaptive life cycles, change management, flexible planning, people orientation, collaborative leadership style, small and self-organized teams, tacit knowledge, and informal communication. The findings suggest that by enabling these characteristics, an agile project manager is able to deliver customer value through innovation and leadership-collaboration management style, hence, successfully addressing the characteristics of a biotechnology R&D project in Sweden. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 88 p.
Keyword [en]
competences, creativity, leadership, communication, flexibility, agile project manager
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-98087OAI: diva2:781339
Available from: 2015-01-16 Created: 2015-01-16 Last updated: 2015-01-16Bibliographically approved

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