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Working in IT projects – Options and Limits of Work Design


  • Erich Latniak

    (Institut Arbeit und Technik – Wissenschaftszentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gelsenkirchen, Germany)

  • Anja Gerlmaier

    (Institut Arbeit und Technik – Wissenschaftszentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen, Gelsenkirchen, Germany)


Flexible forms of work like project work are gaining importance in industry and services. Looking at the research on project work, the vast majority of present literature is on project management, but increasingly, problems concerning the quality of work and the efficiency of project teams become visible. The question now is how project work can be structured in order to simultaneously provide efficient and flexible work and healthy working conditions ensuring the development of human resources for a long time. Selected results of publicly funded research into project work will be presented based on case studies in 7 software development /IT consulting project teams (N=34). A set of different methods was applied: interviews with management/project managers, group interviews on work constraints, a monthly diary about well-being and critical incidences in the course of the project, and a final evaluation questionnaire on project outcomes focusing on economic and health aspects. Findings reveal that different types of projects exist with varying degree of team members’ autonomy and influence on work structuring. An effect of self-regulation on mental strain could not be found. The results emphasize, that contradicting requirements and insufficient organizational resources with respect to the work requirements lead to an increased work intensity or work obstruction. These contradicting requirements are identified as main drivers for generating stress. Finally, employees with high values on stress for more than 2 months have significantly higher exhaustion rates than those with only one month peaks. Structuring project work and taking into account the dynamics of project work, there is a need for an active role of the project team in contract negotiation or the detailed definition of work – this is not only a question of individual autonomy but of negotiation the range of option for work structuring. Therefore, along with the sequential definition of the (software) product, the working conditions need to be re-defined.

Suggested Citation

  • Erich Latniak & Anja Gerlmaier, 2006. "Working in IT projects – Options and Limits of Work Design," Enterprise and Work Innovation Studies, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, IET/CICS.NOVA-Interdisciplinary Centre on Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, vol. 2(2), pages 21-37, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ieu:journl:v:2:y:2006:i:2:p:21-37

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