Towards Excellence in Managing the Public-Sector Project Cycle: A TQM Context

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to assess the management of public-sector projects in Portugal paying particular attention to the extent to which total quality management (TQM) principles are being utilized in such projects. Design/methodology/approach: Based on an extensive review of the literature, nine propositions are advanced about the interrelationships among seven factors that were identified, in a previous study, as having some influence on the management process in the planning and implementation of public-sector projects in Portugal. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate these propositions using data obtained from 211 respondents to a survey of project managers from municipalities across Portugal. Findings: The results of the structural equation model indicate that the TQM components working in tandem with project-management-specific variables provide a systematic means of managing the planning and implementation stages of projects, with technical items being critical in the planning stage and softer management items becoming important in the implementation stage. Research limitations/implications: Readers should be careful not to generalize the findings in a global context or for private sector projects. However, researchers are encouraged to extend this study by including other planning and implementation variables with a view to discerning what particular characteristics of a project make it more amenable to TQM solutions. Practical implications: The findings are presented to show how the key components of TQM, customer focus, employee involvement and continuous involvement, can be applied during the planning and implementation stages of projects. Originality/value: The sample size of 211 is representative of the underlying population of project managers in municipalities across Portugal and is comparatively large in relation to other empirical project management studies from Portugal, lending credence to the generalizability of these finding to public-sector projects in Portugal.