As a set of assiduous efforts to produce an unparalleled result

As a set of assiduous efforts to produce an unparalleled result, Project Management is defined by PMI as “…the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”, while PMI’s precise description is that “Pproject management is accomplished through the appropriate application and integration of 47 logically grouped project management processes, …” (PMI, p. 5).13
What makes a project successful remains a question and so does “successful,” which is attributable to “project” in this context and is, therefore, open to debate. Being an adjective, “successful” carries a different amount of weight with stakeholders depending on their views and attitudes and respective cultural background.
14 15 According to PMI, success of any project “…should be measured in terms of completing the project within the constraints of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, and risk as approved between the project managers and senior management” (PMI, p. 35).
Another term to consider is “project performance,” a measurable indicator to assess the project against approved limits or baselines.
13 Consequently, success factors are the circumstances that are conducive to the completion of the project within its constraints, thereby causing what comes out as a success. Cooke-Davies has identified a total of 12 success factors for project management in general. The ninth factor in row gives the impression that the process of delivering benefits to the project customer per se has a decisive importance in the success of the project thereof.16
It is found to be difficult to disagree with Cooke-Davies’ point of view pointing at success factors behind project management as “…those inputs to the management system that lead directly or indirectly to the success of the project or business…” (Cooke-Davies, 2002, p. 185).
Subsequently, success factors would open the way to impact factors to be devised as inputs that have an ambivalent effect on the successful integration of project customers representing the cultures that might be astonishingly divergent from one another.
Neither scholars nor practitioners are able to arrive at a common agreement on the unified definition of culture. Their views seem to be approximate to each other on how Hofstede and Trompenaars/Hampden-Turner define culture. “Culture … is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another. Culture is learned, not innate. It derives from one’s social environment rather than one’s genes.” (Hofstede, p. 6)18
The latter definition by Geerd Hofstede combines major aspects of the studied into a single substance and, consequently, may be complemented with the following: “Our own culture is like water to a fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it. … a fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it.” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, p. 27)
19 An important provided by Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner gives an insight into the ways the cultural predisposition of a human being impacts on the overall awareness of cultural differences.
Although this study makes the focus on national culture, it by no means diminishes organizational, professional, or ethnical cultures, for they all remain central to project management, but are not included in order to avoid miscomprehensions and/or confusion. Thus, the terms intercultural and cross-cultural are used synonymously in this thesis.
To further elaborate on the topic studied and clarify if there is room for the identified factors to be accommodated in real world projects, and look for – and discover – additional impact factors to make intercultural customers affiliated with their respective cultural segment, a qualitative empirical inquiry was developed. The decision that followed was in favor of drafting a semi-structured interview guide aimed at identifying intercultural challenges to project managers in the course of their interaction with project customers. For its part, a structured interview is not about putting open-ended questions that are vital to comprehend how national culture brings influence to bear on project-client relationship. On the contrary, an unstructured interview is likely to lack for the concentration on the specific question, i.e. the topic of study, to be investigated. Finally, a semi-structured interview provides the interviewer with an opportunity to follow new trains of thought and ideas while conducting an interview and hence to discover more information pertaining to the intermixing of project customers. 26 The interview guide was written having taken into consideration the experience of Myers with latent problems that were encountered when an interview with a project manager or another stakeholder was being conducted (2013; pp.125-126).
27 At the interview stage, the quality of focal questions is yet improved by deepening and probing questions. To remain compliant with the topic – and purpose – of this study, the responses to only the two sets of questions, highlighted above, were analyzed. Meanwhile, to lessen the risk of being misled and ensure the full understanding, the interviews are conducted with the richest medium available, involving face-to-face interviews, video- and teleconferencing, and phone calls. In the interview guide, there were introductory questions to prepare interviewees and smooth their way into subsequent conversation, thereby making arrangements for both parties to share personal information before formal questioning. This technique establishes trust among parties to the conversation partners and is further fostered by assuring every single interviewee that the information they share will be kept confidential, (recorded) and used for scientific purposes only. It is common to face difficulties in arranging for a Project Manager to undergo an interview, for they are often engulfed by work and considered the business company staff; therefore, it was important to ensure that the interview would not last longer than 90 minutes. Meanwhile, it should be noted that elite and self-selection bias are common problems for all qualitative researchers to address.