Drawing New Cards or Standing Pat: Antecedents, Dynamics, and Consequences of Project Manager Replacement

Kate Davis, Francesco Di Maddaloni, Jeffrey K. Pinto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The majority of projects - even ultimately successful ones - run into significant problems during their development. While organizations have a variety of mechanisms at their disposal to correct projects that are experiencing difficulties, one of the most radical is replacing the project manager. Replacing a project manager 'mid-stream' involves a major change to an ongoing project with the potential benefits of onboarding an individual with a different perspective or set of managerial and/or technical skills. Using agency theory as our critical evaluative lens and a qualitative data collection methodology, we interviewed 19 key informants who had experience as part of project manager replacement efforts. This article reports of the dynamics of replacing project managers, identifying the critical decision criteria and mechanisms involved in such decisions. We found that three themes emerged with regard to project manager replacement decision making: 1) replacement is a common correction practice for troubled projects; 2) replacement is viewed by decision makers and team members alike as a message for change; and 3) in reestablishing processes and trust in governance, project size is an important moderator when deciding on a course of action. We finally propose a process model, based on our analysis, which identifies the critical antecedents, effects, and consequences of project manager replacement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1670-1692
Number of pages23
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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