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The Global Project Manager

July 7, 2014

Standard project management needs to be adjusted to achieve the objectives of good project management in a non-western culture. Several recent studies have documented this in a number of African countries. This makes the role of the project manager central and complex in a global context.

Effective managers of projects must understand and apply the fundamentals of project management if they are to be successful – anywhere! The global project manager, however, also has to have an open mind regarding the fundamentals, i.e., scope, schedule, and cost, because they will be influenced by culture.

For example, project scope tends to involve very direct communication, where all is said and written with clearly defined deliverables, which is common in countries such as Germany and the USA. However, participants from an indirect culture might still assume that parts of the scope have to be “read between the lines”, which is common in Japan and China, for example.

Knowledge of the cultural differences, however, will be of little help if the manager is not capable of transforming it into action and results. To be effective in converting cultural knowledge into results, we must be globally competent – able to manage our perception of others, our relationship with others, and our sense of self.

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