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iCom Symposium: Humanizing Project Management

On 13th of March, 2014 the symposium “Humanizing Project Management” took place in Palais Festetics (Vienna). Supported by the Chamber of Commerce Austria, this event formed the conclusion of a series of events for sharing experience between participants from universities and industry in the course of the project “iCom Constructive Communication in the Context of ICT” funded by the European Union.

The iCom Team presented the results of the bilateral project between the University of Vienna and the Masaryk University, Brno; in particular the  book “Constructive Communication in International Teams - An Experience-Based Guide” which was recently published by Waxmann

International keynote speakers Günther Krumpak and Jeffrey H. D. Cornelius-White brought major insights in the project into larger contexts. Finally, participants from universities and business discussed competition and collaboration in business environments and followed the question: How social can you be in business?

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Three years of international, interdisciplinary knowledge exchange

At the beginning, project leaders Nino Tomaschek (Postgraduate Center), Tomáš Pitner (Masaryk University, Faculty of Informatics) and Renate Motschnig (University of Vienna, Faculty of Computer Science) highlighted the specific conditions under which the project took place. In the iCom project, connections were constituted between different professions through border-crossing practice-research workshops, PhD courses as well as informal teacher meetings from 2011 to 2014.

The interdisciplinarity of the iCom project was accentuated: at the interface of management, psychology and computer science.

The scientific results of the project include two finished dissertations, 22 research articles (19 of which at the University of Vienna) – which were presented in 17 international conferences – and one book for practitioners in business. These scientific results were highly supported by close cooperation with international professors and with established networks for knowledge exchange. 

Focus on human values in the work environment

Günther Krumpak (Chairman at a czech IT company, ITBeurope) presented – reflecting on experiences collected in the iCom project – a broad perspective on communication valuable for people working in industry. Further, the shaping of interpersonal relationships in education and business – between pupils and teachers, leaders and coworkers – was at the center of his keynote. The basic message was a return to human values in work places, in which people cooperate with each other.

Such human values were highlighted by several members of the iCom project through sharing significant events they experienced throughout the project. A rich collection of such significant events can be found in the book “Constructive Communication in International Teams - An Experience-based Guide”. It was written by a team of 12 authors and constituted with practitioners in international project environments, specifically team leaders and project managers, in mind.

In the scientific keynote „Authentic Leadership & Empathy“ by Jeffrey H. D. Cornelius-White (Professor at the Missouri State University, Department of Counceling, Leadership and Special Education) the concepts authenticity and empathy were presented from the viewpoint of humanistic psychology. They were contrasted by shedding light at them from different personal experiences and insights.


Panel discussion: competition versus cooperation

Finally, Alexander Kagl (PMI Austria Chapter) Antonín Moravec (Kentico), Katharina Cortolezis-Schlager (team consult wien), Markus Kratochvil (Dynact) and Tomáš Pitner (Masaryk University Brno) discussed how to be effective in the field of tension between competition and cooperation. The conversation partners agreed that social aspects in work environments gain importance. Especially in highly competitive markets it is essential to work together effectively and sustainably in projects – together with clients, stakeholders, crossing department borders and inside the teams. Still, competition is daily routine in project environments. The question „How social can you be in business?“ could not be answered this evening, but the conversation partners provided for many thought-provoking impulses and inspirations.

The event was organized in cooperation with the Austrian Economic Chambers. It is further financially supported by the “European Territorial Co-operation (Austria – Czech Republic 2007-2013)” fund.