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 434: The PMP® Exam is Changing on 1 July 2020 (Free) #PMOT

    Play Now:

    Sierrah Hampton-Simmons
    Sierra Hampton-Simmons

    As a project management trainer, I have always focused not only on teaching my students how to pass their exams but also on how to become better at what they are doing. Yes, of course, I want you to pass your exam and become certified but I always strived to ensure that what I teach helps you to better lead your projects and deliver them successfully for your stakeholders.

    And that is why I think the changes that the Project Management Institute (PMI)® is making to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam on July 1st, 2020 is a good change, even though they could have managed the roll-out a bit better.

    With this update, PMI® is moving away from the five current and somewhat ‘technical’ domains and shifts the focus of the exam to test a candidate’s knowledge of, and experience in the skills necessary to actually lead and manage a project. Specifically, the three new domains are People, Process, and Business Environment.

    But why am I telling you all of this when we have a guest for you who is much more qualified than I am: Sierra Hampton-Simmons (LinkedIn Profile). Sierra has nearly two decades of experience as an expert in Certification Management and joined PMI in late 2013. Currently, she serves as the Portfolio Leader/Head of Certification Products. This means that she is responsible for the entire portfolio of Certification Products including the PMP® exam. So she’s the perfect person to discuss both the background and nature of the changes. You’ll even get to hear that PMI is making changes to the type and style of questions a candidate will see during the exam itself.

    Episode 433: Exciting Updates for The CAPM® Exam (Free)

    Play Now:

    Sierrah Hampton-Simmons
    Sierra Hampton-Simmons

    Are you by any chance thinking about becoming a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)®? Well then, you are in for a treat today because the Project Management Institute (PMI)® is currently in the process of making a number of exciting changes to this exam and we review all of them.

    There are some technical change - for example you will encounter two new question types on the exam - and PMI® is also making it easier for everyone who is and will be CAPM® certified if you decide to apply to take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam.

    And here to talk us through these changes is no other than Sierra Hampton-Simmons (LinkedIn Profile). Sierra has nearly two decades of experience as an expert in Certification Management and joined PMI in late 2013. Currently, she serves as the Portfolio Leader/Head of Certification Products. This means that she is responsible for the entire portfolio of Certification Products including the CAPM certification. So she’s the perfect person to talk to about this.

    Special The PM Exam Coach: Interview with Cornelius Fichtner (Free)

    Play Now:

    This is a special episode of The PM Podcast in which we are sharing a video from The PM Coaching Podcast.

    In this interview, Dan Ryan, MBA, PMP, ( - LinkedIn Profile) interviews Cornelius Fichtner, PMP.

    Some of the topics are:

    • Cornelius's background and life story
    • What changes are coming to Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam in December 2019
    • What is the best way to pass pmp exam
    • And also some of the differentiators between PMP and other exams


    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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