"This kind of work—philosophical work—is not going to get me anywhere quickly: it’s not the norm for (…) Business Schools, neither quantitative—nor qualitative, not seen as credible management research or rigorous empirical work, not playing the game. Seen as weird. But sometimes you have to make choices …

That the choices we make about the type of work we want to do as scholars are not just intellectual ones, they are intricately interwoven with who we are—made in poetic moments, in-relation to others, and have political consequences in terms of our identities and careers."

Cunliffe (2018, p. 9)

Cunliffe, A (2018).  Alterity: The passion, politics, and ethics of self and scholarship.  Management Learning, 49(1), 8-22.


Jacques-Bernard Gauthier is particularly interested in issues which regard the foundations of research and which underlie studies on the plurality of organizational practices. Jacques-Bernard Gauthier does not believe that a scientific work becomes intellectually virtuous merely because it adopts a quantitative, qualitative or mixed approach. This characteristic of “intellectual virtue” is achieved only if there is rigor (and rigorness must be proven, no matter which methodological approach is adopted) and interest1 (which is manifested at the level of the research question, the theory that is activated and produced, and the contributions that are targeted.). Thus, like other authors, Jacques-Bernard Gauthier proposes to highlight the duality of thoroughness and interest1 within the qualitative/quantitative dualism.

Among organizational practices, those relating to project management attract the attention of Jacques-Bernard Gauthier. Indeed research into project management is growing dramatically and just like management in general, it also must submit to demands that it remain in sync with practice. Indeed, Söderlund and Maylor make links between research and practice in project management, establishing a challenge that must be met.

"Relevance for research then, is the execution of research focused on a practitioner or organizational problem. We have already identified that this is not the same as impact, where the outcome of research contributes to changes in (Project Management) practice. The gap between the outcomes of research and changes in practice is the focus of this integrative challenge, and there are three aspects we will consider. The first is the nature of the outcome of research. The second is the conversion of research into practice and the third is the influence of research on practice through the teaching of business and management schools."2
A fair number of sociologists find it impossible to separate practices from the spaces in which these practices operate. By isolating a practice from its operating space, we are ipso facto limiting the amount of interest our analyses might generate. This explains, at least in part, certainly, why the concept of space occupies an expanding place in project management.

Jacques-Bernard Gauthier has been reflecting upon the concept of space in project management since he first began writing his doctoral thesis by perusing the works of Henry Lefebvre. Besides, this thesis dealt with the physical, mental and social structuring of an organizational space during the period before implantation of a new information technology. In other words, while the stakeholders are fully expecting to see the project finalized. So, what is especially studied are practices that are being developed in the spaces (-time) that are about to receive a project in its final form. These hesitant meditative musings led to the writing of a book chapter on the responsibilities and practices related to expectations.3.

1. In the sens of : Davis, M. S. (1971). ‘That’s interesting ! Towards a phenomenology of sociology and a sociology of phenomenology’, Philosophy of Social Sciences, 1(4), 309-344.
2. Söderlund, J. et Maylor, H. (2012).  Project management scholarship: Relevance, impact and five integrative challenges for business and management schools.  International Journal of Project Management, 30(6), 686-696.
3. Gauthier, J.-B. (2007). Reflection about the Structuration of Organziations: The Capacity of Responsibility of Human Agents and Conditions of Absence. Dans A.-" Davila-Gomez et D. Crowther (dir.), Ethics, Psyche and Social Responsibility. (pp. 73-92). Burlington: Ashgate.



The health sector, for its part, is bound by different issues because of the anchoring of multiple practices that operate in numerous spaces whose geographic extent never ceases to increase over the years. This is why Jacques-Bernard Gauthier came to concentrate his work on organizations in the health field with a particular interest in health care and services projects (management of health care and services projects is a little-explored theme in project management -- see Afzal and Gauthier (2017)).

The Projects-as-Practice research current promotes the qualities of ‘reflexivity’4 among the actors in projects. Consequently, this current invites us to study the structuring of project management through the practices of the stakeholders. In the health sector this includes not only health professionals but also managers, actors in the community, or even health care beneficiaries. The study of structuring requires the analysis of numerous elements specific to a social dynamic: its conditions, the process by which its structures are generated, and the inter-influence between the practices and the structures of the milieu (in other words, the space) in which the practices operate (see
Savoir (2007), 7(2), 24-25; Hério, R., Gauthier, J.-B. and Paradis, J. (2014)).

Although health is a classical sector in project management, the project management norms that are promoted in this sector are those of the mainstream. In order to nourish the “reflexivity” of researchers and to get them outside of traditional frameworks, Alvesson and Sköldberg (2009)f propose to researchers that they should dare to dive into a universe different from the one they are in the habit of studying. This is why Jacques-Bernard Gauthier wished to lightly modify his research program, thereby creating a cross-over between his own work, which is anchored in the health sector, and collaborative research that focuses on actors evolving in the margins of creative and cultural industries. More concretely, here is an example of research work carried on in creative industries with Professor Julie Bérubé which was transposed to a study of project management in the health sector. Julie Bérubé and Jacques-Bernard Gauthier borrowed the theory of justification from Boltanski and Thévenot (2006)g to study the various values tensions (and the resulting compromises) that can arise between the creation and the management of a project, in the SMEs of a regionally-established creative industry. The idea of values tensions and of research into compromises is seen, in current research, as one of the conditions that are preliminary to integration of project teams in the health sector.
According to the various logic sources enumerated up to now, two major questions guide the study of the plurality of management practices being carried out by Jacques-Bernard Gauthier:

• How do the practices of stakeholders participate in establishing the conditions for innovative practices-projects (in this case projects and practices in health care and services)?

• As a follow-up to project completion, once the context project no longer has a reason to exist, what remains at the spatial level? Is it possible that the practices could have participated in producing, in the margins of the project, a physical, mental and social space which could endure after the project is ended?

1.‘Reflexivity’ is defined in various ways. Two of these definitional methods tend to dominate in project management: ‘reflexive’ competency as espoused by Giddens (1984)a and Schön’s(1991)b ‘reflective practitioner’. Morris (2013)c identifies a difference between the two. In a paper presented at the 10th Congress of the IRNOP (2011)d and also in an articlee published in collaboration with Ika Lavagnone, I gave a summary presentation of the elements that distinguish Giddens’ reflexivity from Schön’s reflectivity.
a. Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of Society. Berkeley : University of California Press.
b. Schön, D. A. (1991). The Reflective Practionner. Londre : Ashgate.
c. Morris, P. W. (2013). Reconstructing Project Management. Londre : Wiley-Blackwell.
d. Gauthier, J. B. and Ika, L.  (2011). Foundations of the Expanding Domain of Project Management Research : An Explicit and Six-Facet Ontological Framework.  Dans Les actes de colloque du 10e congrès de l’IRNOP, Montréal, Québec.
e. Gauthier, J.-B. and Lavagnon, I. (2012). Foundations of Project Management Research: An Explicit and Six-Facet. Project Management Journal, 43(5), 5-23.
f. Alvesson, M. and Sköldberg, K. (2009). Reflexive Methodologiy. Thousand Oas : Sage Publication.
g. Boltanski, L. and Thévenot, L. (2006). On Justification. Economies of Worth. Princeton : Princeton University Press
Creswell et Poth* points out that social science research rests on a basis of philosophical postulates regarding: (1) the nature of reality, (2) the 'valid' knowledge existing on that reality (3) the research procedure to be followed to produce knowledge that will be considered valid, and finally, (4) values. These postulates refer us back to four foundations of research: ontology, epistemology, methodology and axiology.

Just like in sociology, in management, each of these foundations has been the subject of a great many discussions. But what of reflections on the foundations of project management research? By way of illustration, let us for example look at epistemology and the three following journals which deal specifically with project management: Project Management Journal, International Journal of Project Management and International Journal of Managing Project in Business. Besides the basic work that was done for many years by Christophe Bredillet on the subject of epistemology in project management, it was not until 2007 that the very first article with a title that explicitly made reference to epistemology appeared in one of these three journals**.

Since then, it has been possible to list many publications in which the word ‘epistemology’ appears, (and sometimes even more than once) in the body of the text. Among these publications, only a few are seeking to debate the subject of epistemology in project management, or else to propose alternatives to present positions. Nevertheless, as Bourdieu underlined in 1990, “epistemology is not a spiritual extra for intellectuals, but rather part of the task of science ”(Free translation from French)***.

We seem to forget that definitions of projects and project management or else the theories used in project management are founded upon ontological, epistemological, methodological and axiological bases. Evidently, epistemology is not the only thing that should not be viewed simply as a spiritual “extra” for intellectuals, and research in project management cannot afford to skip over its four (4) foundational bases. This observation has given rise to a series of reflections on the foundations of research into project management. The most recent work of reflective thinking was published in October 2012 in Project Management Journal. It deals with the complex nature of reality in project management and proposes an avenue for eventual reconciliation of certain antagonistic ontological positions. There are also works presently in progress that deal with axiology, epistemology, reflexivity and research in project management. This work was presented at conferences (see
Referred Conferences)
* Creswell, J. W. & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design. Choosing Among Five Approaches (4th ed). Los Angeles : Sage publication.
** It is : Smyth, H. J. and Morris, P. W. G. (2007). An epistemological evaluation of research into projects and their management: Methodological issues. International Journal of Project Management, 25(4), 423-436.
*** Pierre Bourdieu sur l’État. Cours au collège de France 1989-1992. Paris : Seuil, p. 149.