Responsible Project Management in Bangladesh

The experiences of the management of projects arising from the manmade and natural disaster need to be studied and understood. New knowledge is required to address the challenges of balancing social, economic and environmental requirements, as well as balancing the needs of refugees, local communities while reducing the environmental impact and protecting species such as the elephants. The team will work with the management teams working at the Rohingya camp and undertaking resettlement projects to develop case studies and learning tools that can support teaching and research in Responsible Project Management.

Close to one million Rohingya refugees have sought safety from persecution in Bangladesh. Kutupalang in the Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, is the world’s largest refugee camp. Here, there are alarming living conditions, devastating environmental impacts caused by human occupation and staggering economic costs involved in camp management.

Services for refugees are all delivered through projects. Presently, there are 84 projects that are formally recognised, with over 200 organisations officially involved as stakeholders. BU researchers believe that project managers here should be doing more to negate environmental, economic and social impacts.

Drs Williams and Thompson are joined on the project by Dr Mehdi Chowdhury, a Senior Lecturer in Economics from the Faculty of Management, and Tilak Ginige, a Senior Lecturer in environmental law from the Faculty of Science and Technology.

The BU research team are now working with project organisers in Bangladesh to improve stakeholder management and further develop the RPM concept. Dr Thompson reveals exactly how her team are studying project management during this crisis.

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Our intent is to develop researchers and practitioners who incorporate responsible management principles: social impact, environmental impact, and economic sustainability in project planning. These practitioners will work to develop projects based on the requirements of their specific context in the living present rather than a purely rational/ technical competence of following a set of universally applicable instrumental rules and standards.

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Project managers need to develop awareness of environments that in which there are multiple value systems, competing agendas and competing expectations. The process of developing and delivering these projects involves a collective social learning process with stakeholders to jointly frame and define problems, determine boundaries and intra team interactions.