Defence of dissertation in the field of industrial engineering and management, M.Sc. Jere Lehtinen

Title of the doctoral thesis is "External stakeholder engagement in complex projects"
Brooklyn Bridge

Engaging external stakeholders, like authorities, citizens, communities, and non-governmental organizations, is an essential part of complex project management and value creation. Project management research and practice has shown however that engaging external stakeholders is challenging. One reason is that stakeholders have contradictory views about a project’s value creation. Such contradictory views often lead to stakeholder conflicts as seen in media. For example, the environmental issues and stakeholder conflicts of Raide-Jokeri project have been scrutinized recently in Finnish media.

In his thesis, M.Sc. Jere Lehtinen studied how project organizations of complex projects engage external stakeholders. Mr. Lehtinen examined the phenomenon in three Finnish infrastructure projects: Tapiola center renewal project in Espoo, Rantatunneli road project in Tampere and Lielahti-Kokemäki railway project between Pirkanmaa and Satakunta regions.

The research findings from Rantatunneli and Lielahti-kokemäki projects indicated that systematic organizing is a pivotal premise for engaging external stakeholders successfully. Systematic organizing includes for example appointing personnel with dedicated yet flexible responsibilities for engagement, devising a broad portfolio of engagement practices, setting indicators for measuring engagement success, establishing systems for gathering feedback from external stakeholders, and internalizing cooperative values in the organization. The research on Tapiola project showed that interaction with stakeholders is bound to project lifecycle and changing stakeholder environment. Instead of idealistic principles of engagement, project organizations balance constantly between activities to engage external stakeholders and activities to disengage external stakeholders over the project lifecycle to enable value creation. The thesis also examined social media as an engagement practice in more detail in Rantatunneli project. The findings highlighted that project organizations engage social media stakeholders successfully by being cooperative and communicating topical information about the project’s progress and sustainability issues.

The findings of the thesis offer new insights about how project organizations engage external stakeholders, contributing to complex project management research and stakeholder theory. The research findings can be utilized in designing and managing complex projects for enhancing their value creation.

Opponent: Professor Leena Aarikka-Stenroos, University of Tampere, Finland

Custos: Professor Karlos Artto, Aalto University School of Science,Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

Contact details of the doctoral candidate: [email protected], +358 50 323 0344

The public defence will be organised via Zoom. Link to the event

Zoom Quick Guide

The dissertation is publicly displayed 10 days before the defence in the publication archive Aaltodoc of Aalto University

Electronic dissertation

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