Project Management Discourse Communities (Rich Hintz)


    The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently”.1

    James Porter defines a discourse community is “a group of individuals bound by a common interest who communicate through approved channels and whose discourse is regulated”.2 John Swales builds upon Porter’s definition and further defines discourse communities by identifying six characteristics: a set of common goals, a method to communicate among members, participation to provide information, one or more genres, a lexis, and active experts.3

    These definitions and attributes hold true in project management discourse communities. This wiki introduces many of these attributes in the context of project management discourse communities.



    If only transferring project management knowledge from a subject matter expert was this easy.4

    Benefits of Discourse Communities

    Just as scientists build upon the knowledge of other scientists, so do project managers learn from the knowledge of other project managers. Ongoing debates in the field of science are common, as are ongoing debates in the field of project management. Project management discourse communities offer members the opportunity to establish standards, exchange knowledge and best practices, and debate new ideas – all in an effort to make more effective project managers who can successfully deliver projects. Project management discourse communities originate from different environments, are influenced by a variety of sponsors, utilize a wide range of genres, regularly have unique goals, and assimilate members differently.



    There are many different environments where project management discourse communities exist.

    Acadamia. Many universities around the world offer courses in project management. For example, Dakota State Univeristy offers CIS-338, "Project Management". Many universities offer complete degrees in project management. South Dakota State University offers a degree titled "Construction Management" (many project management concepts come from the construction industry). B.S., Master's, and Doctorite degrees are available from many universities around the world. Domestic examples:

    Penn State

    Stevens Institute of Technology

    Colorado Technical Institute

    Northcentral University

    Capella University

    Ohio State University

    Purdue University

    Syracuse University

    Professional organizations. Examples:

    Project Management Institute

    International Project Management Association

    Association of Project Management

    For-profit corporations. Examples:





    Private within corporation. Example: Group of active project managers within Daktronics.

    Types of Knowledge

    As with most discourse communities, there is an expectation by community members that those with a desire to join the community have a basic level of knowledge. In project management discourse communities, the following are key concepts.

    • Project Integration Management
    • Project Scope Management
    • Project Time Management
    • Project Cost Management
    • Project Quality Management
    • Project Human Resource Management
    • Project Communications Management
    • Project Risk Management
    • Project Procurement Management


    An expanded list of knowledge areas is available on Wikipedia, Project Management.


    Different types of sponsors have influence on project management discourse communities and members.

    Schools. Example: South Dakota State University and Dakota State University.

    Professional organizations. Example: Project Management Institute.

    Employers. Example: Daktronics.


    The most common standard for project management in the United States is A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).Additional standards/methodologies include:

    • PRINCE2 - Used primarily by the UK government.
    • Lean Production System - Created by Toyota for manufacturing environments.
    • Agile - Created for the software development community.
    • Critical Chain - Places emphasis on resources required to execute project tasks.
    • Event Chain - Focusses on identifying and managing events that affect project schedules.
    • Process-Based - Governs the mindset and actions in an organization.
    • Extreme - Created for the software development community.
    • ISO 10006 - Guidelines for quality management in projects.
    • ISO 21500 - "Guidance on Project Management" ISO standard, to be released Q2 of 2012.
    • Capability Maturity Model - Typically applied to software development maturity for companies pursuing government contracts.

    Demonstrating Expertise

    The most common methods to demonstrate expertise are university degrees and industry certifications.

    University Degrees. BS, Master's, PhD.

    Industry Certifications. CompTIA Project+, PMI Project Management Professional.


    Genres are forms of literature. Project management communities utilize many genres. Examples:

    • Research Papers
    • White Papers
    • Video Presentations
    • Periodicals
    • Online Blogs
    • Discussion Forums
    • ISO


    Additional information on these and other genres can be found on Wikipedia.


    Technology plays a key role in project management and in the project management discourse communities.

    PMI makes available to its members a large set of online books, standards, and general information. does the same.

    ISO standards can be purchased and downloaded instantly.

    Safari Books Online offers online viewing of thousands of books. There are currently over 222 project management books available on Safari Books Online. In 2012 there were 181 project management books added to Safari Books Online.

    Online templates are often utilized to decrease the administrative burden placed upon the project manager and to increase quality by ensuring consistency. A vast variety of templates are available online and from different companies and organizations.

    Examples of Technology in Use


    Community via LinkedIn

    Project Management Questions

    RSS - The Project Management Podcast (latest three)

    The Project Management Podcast
    Episode 444: What People Really Think About Risk (Free) #PMOT

    Play Now:

    Dr. D. Hillson
    Dr. David Hillson

    Definitions are a useful starting point, but what do you really think when you hear the word risk? How does it make you feel? What about related words like "uncertainty," "threat" or "opportunity"? Building on established neurolinguistic theories of word/image association, this session will explore underlying tensions in the way practitioners think and feel about risk. Discover the surprising truth, and compare yourself with your peers.

    This interview with Dr. David Hillson was recorded at the PMI® Global Conference 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. We discuss his research and insights into what you truly think about when you hear the words "risk" and "opportunity" using the Bouba/Kiki Effect.

    You will see and understand why it's hard to include opportunities in an integrated risk management process and discover your own underlying perceptions of risk, and the implications for your risk management behavior.

    Episode 443: Project Knowledge Sharing for Innovation (Free)

    Play Now:

    Benjamin and Bruce
    Benjamin Anyacho and Bruce Moore

    Employees get 50-75% of their relevant information directly from other people. All project management begins with knowledge; one of the most critical organizational assets—intellectual capital—is held captive in the minds of individuals. How to capture, share, retain and reuse this knowledge is the greatest challenge facing organizations today.

    This interview with Benjamin Anyacho (LinkedIn Profile) and Bruce Moore (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the PMI® Global Conference 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. We discuss how to create/establish a robust knowledge-sharing environment intelligently, leveraging it for exponential growth, competitive advantage, and innovation.

    Our discussion also looks at intelligent approaches to managing competencies, capabilities, and critical knowledge assets of the organization strategies for converting, capturing, sharing, as well as ways to retaining/reusing project knowledge to achieve innovative solutions, and value

    Episode 442: Preparing Facilitated Project Planning Meetings (Premium)

    This episode is reserved for subscribers of the Premium Podcast.

    Click here and learn about the Premium Podcast to access this interview and transcript...

    Rich and Jim
    Rich Maltzman and Jim Stewart

    Rich Maltzman (LinkedIn Profile) and Jim Stewart (LinkedIn Profile) are back on the program today to talk about Goblins… no… wait… [furiously checks notes]... Ahhh… no. Sorry. My fault. No goblins today.

    Instead, the focus is on preparing a facilitated project planning meeting. We look at resolving any looming unaddressed issues before the meeting starts, how to make sure that the financial investment of a planning meeting actually pays off, and then Rich and Jim talk us through about 8 actionable activities they recommend you do in order to plan the meeting right.

    The interview is based on Chapter 8 : Preparing for the Facilitated Project Planning Meeting of their book How to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings - A Practical Guide to Ensuring Project Success. Therefore, we close the discussion with the number one thing that each of them has personally learned about running a good project planning meeting while they were researching and writing the book… good stuff.


    The number of project management discourse communities available today is truly amazing. If at any time you are bored and would like to read more, try this Google search (there are only 89 million results).


    • 1. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide); an American National Standard. 4th ed. ANSI/PMI 99-001-2008. Newton Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute, 2008. Print
    • 2. Porter, James E. Intertextuality and the Discourse Community. Wardle and Downs 86-100. Print.
    • 3. Swales, John. The Concept of Discourse Community. Wardle and Downs 466-80. Print.
    • 4. Knowledge Transfer Station. Cartoon. Lambert Consulting Group, Inc., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.

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