Operations and Systems Management

Our PhD students

Paul Summers

  • Qualifications: TBC
  • Role Title: PhD student
  • Address: Richmond Building Portland Street Portsmouth PO1 3DE
  • Telephone: TBA
  • Email: paul.summers@portsmouthcc.gov.uk
  • Department: Operations and Systems Management
  • Faculty: Portsmouth Business School


Nationality: British - Director of studies: Christine Welch - Year of graduation: N/A

An Investigation into the Relationships Between Systems Thinking and Portfolio, Programme and Project Management

Thesis summary

Many Local Authorities are investing in portfolio, programme and project management (PPPM) to produce improvements in service delivery. At the same time some Local Authorities are pursuing systems thinking solutions especially those promoted by Professor John Seddon's organisation Vanguard. Indeed in the public sector systems thinking equates to Vanguard.

The purpose of this research will be to investigate the tensions, differences and similarities between systems thinking, especially Vanguard and portfolio, programme and project management. It is felt that systems thinking can augment PPPM, so a review of the literature where systems thinking and project management are used in combination will be undertaken with a view to amalgamating these ideas with PPPM. From this review of the literature it should be possible to construct a conceptual framework, based on principles which can be applied throughout the public sector, that relates PPPM and systems thinking.

An appropriate research methodology appears to be action research in which I will introduce the conceptual framework into PCC and observe how this works in a unitary authority and evaluate the findings. This should then inform refinements to my conceptual framework, which I will then reapply in subsequent iterations. The research will probably be limited to Portsmouth City Council.

This will lead to a framework which may have application in other organisations and will build on the current knowledge within the area of systems thinking and portfolio, programme and project management.