Projectifying work: network organisation models in contemporaty capitalist societies

Principal researcher: Filipe Reis

External principal researcher: Luísa Veloso (CIES-IUL)

Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture


Project | Organisatiol models | Work | Flexibility

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia





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Contemporary capitalist societies have undergone important and significant transformations in recent decades, the last of which was marked by the aftermath of a financial, economic and social crisis, with different consequences for labour markets and the organisation of work in various countries worldwide, and in which the present has been cut across by a pandemic crisis, on a global level, with evident impacts on work, the scope of which still needs to be appraised. While the literature on the labour market, especially on precariousness and flexibility is extensive (Kalleberg 2009; Castel 2009), literature focussing on models of management and organisation of work and labour relations is scarce (Lundin et al. 2015). Among these models, project work stands out. By project work we mean a temporary structure for organising work which has specific impacts on work relationships and individual performances. In some economic sectors and professions, such as architecture and scientific research, it constitutes the main historical mode of organising work (Boutinet 1990; Greer, Samaluk and Umney 2019), but in other areas it has been increasingly adopted as a mechanism for furthering more flexible work modalities, work relationships and worspaces (Eftaxiopoulos 2022). This research aims to analyse modes of projectification (Lundin et al. 2015; Kuura 2011; 2020) and the way in which they are part of renewed modalities for the organisation of contemporary capitalist societies and have spread to a wide range of sectors of economic activity and professions. The spread of projects as a means of organising work has been effective for a variety of reasons: the development and implementation of models of work organisation that link management rationales, leadership styles, procedures and structures of work relationships which have been specifically designed to make project work effective; the availability of digital and technological resources, enabling continuous online communication regardless the normative definition of space and time (Jensen et al. 2016); the dissemination of a project discourse on the benefits of flexible work and on being permanently available to collaborate (Cicmil et al. 2016); the development of professional activities specifically devoted to project management and organisation, such as "project managers", "project owners" or "project developers", that reshape pre-existing professional boundaries. Projectification is constituted through the conception and adaptation of socio-technical networks (Callon, 1986) that articulate material and symbolical elements in modular forms that facilitate the impermanence of work. Therefore, the discussion of projectification requires an integrated problematization of the different social, technical and political axis that explain its configurations.Concentrating on a specific project type – "project networks" (Lundin et al. 2015), which are, by definition, inter-institutional – this research will follow a methodological framework based on the development of case studies on different sectors of activity in which the projectification rationale has been intensifying: consulting and management companies, research and development activities carried out in partnership between universities and companies, activities of artistic creation and activities carried out within the framework of the social and solidarity economy. Through this strategy it aims to cover the three supporting pillars of contemporary capitalist societies – state, private sector and third sector – and the border areas between them. The vision of this research is to constitute an innovative and social and politically relevant contribution, with the construction of an analytical framework that, with an empirical base, will enable the provision, discussion and dissemination of a renewed view of organisation models and work relationships. It aims at making a significant advancement in the analysis of project networks and in the discussion of new inter-organisational configurations, contributing to expanding the current body of knowledge in this field.


Alexandre Manuel Roque (CIES-IUL)

Joana Soares Marques (CIES-IUL)

Patrícia Silva Santos (CIES-IUL)

Paula Cristina Gonçalves Dias Urze (NOVA.ID.FCT)

Telmo Luís da Costa Carreto Clamote (CIES-IUL)

Vianna e Silva (CIES-IUL)