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Key competences of public sector project managers

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Key competences of public sector project managers

Authors: Beata Jalochaa, Hans Petter Krane, Siva Ekambaram, Grazyna Prawelska-Skrzypek.

Presented at the 27th IPMA World Congress 2013, Dubrovnik, Croatia. This article is a result of a collaboration between Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland), NTNU and SINTEF.


Project managers play a crucial role in all kinds of projects and influence projects' success (Wateridge, 1997; Crawford, 2005). Their role is unique in public sector projects, due to the fact that public projects always deal with multiple, different stakeholders whose opinions can strongly influence the project. Progress in projectification of public sector creates an increasing need for developing competences (knowledge, skills, attitudes) for public sector project managers. However, very little attention has so far been paid to the distinctive features of public sector project managers’ competences, especially in terms of competences necessary for team and stakeholders management.

David Wirick (2009) highlights that project managers in public sector face team management challenges such as: the inability to clearly link performance and reward, compensation systems that are biased towards longevity, the inability to select project team members based on their expertise. In addition, public sector project managers work in environment which very often is not familiar with results-oriented project management, and are constantly dealing with political interference in the management of projects and the challenges of working with political appointees.

This paper's aim is therefore to identify the most important competences of public sector project managers. The authors, based on a literature study, propose a typology of competences, necessary for project managers dealing with specific circumstances of public organizations. The results can help to further develop training programs and academic curricula tailored to the needs of public sector employers.