Topics of project management and sustainability have been addressed by countless studies, but research focusing on the intersection of these topics are needed. This research looks at sustainability through the triple-bottom line perspective: economic, social, and environmental. It aims to identify key aspects of sustainability in project management context and to understand its importance based on project managers' lens. A systematic literature review merging bibliometric and content analysis was applied toward an understanding of the key topics. Further, a survey of project managers was performed and analyzed through exploratory factor analysis. The results show that four factors stood out: Sustainable Innovation Business Model, Stakeholders Management, Economic and Competitive Advantage, and Environmental Policies and Resources Saving.
Social, economic, and environmental challenges have become increasingly complex, forcing organizations to innovate, manage change, and adopt new activities (Pope et al., 2004; Wilkins, 2003). In addition of this fact, there is an increasing interest in using practices in project management (PM) and certifying professionals in this field, supported by bodies of knowledge proposed by the institute (PMI, Project Management Institute, 2013) and associations (IPMA, 2013). Project management and sustainability have been addressed by countless studies, but the intersection between these two fields is still rarefied with just a few studies that have focused on both topics. According to Gimenez et al. (2012) and Kleindorfer et al. (2005), sustainability integrates social, environmental, and economic responsibility in order to create a rational use of present resources and to offer normal life for future generations.
6. Final considerations
This study contributes to the literature by exploring the gap in sustainability and project management. This paper identified relevant literature and structured it in the key variables. As suggested by Singh et al. (2012) and Welsch (2005), there is a large amount of room for additional research in the area of sustainability in project management. This study also revealed that, in recent years, the number of publications about the research topic have grown but remain dispersed across different fields.
As a theoretical contribution, this study provided a summary of key variables according to the extant literature (Tables 1, 2, and 3) that provide initial insights at the nexus of sustainability and project management for subsequent empirical development. Moreover, we explore the project managers' perspective of these variables through a survey-based research. As a result, four factors stood out that explain sustainability in project management in the project managers’ perspective: Sustainable Innovation Business Model, Stakeholders Management, Economics and Competitive Advantage, and Environmental policies and resources saving. The four factors also show that the strategic perspective of TBL sustainability in project management is relevant as named in the grouped factors.