An Application of Focus Theory to Project Management Processes

Fang Chen, Jay F. Nunamaker, Robert O. Briggs, Gail Corbitt, James Sager, Stanley C. Gardiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article presents the findings of an exploratory study of the degree to which Focus Theory, a general theory about group productivity, can be used to improve the productivity of project management activities. Guided by the theory and the principles of collaboration engineering, we developed a collaborative template for project progress status reporting. We evaluated the template in both face-to-face and distributed group interactions. The study indicated that a collaborative template helped structure status reporting activity and provided a permanent record of project status for future reference. As a result, it was efficient and effective for team leaders to prepare topics for project status meetings by using the template. The meetings became focused on topics outlined on the template and meeting participants commented that the meeting record helped them keep track of what had been either accomplished or decided. The major limitation observed for use of the template was that, when used in distributed and synchronous interactions, it needed to be augmented by voice communication because communication in text-only format, as provided by the template, was too time-consuming. We discuss implications of the research outcomes with respect to the usefulness and limitations of Focus Theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-978
Number of pages18
JournalGroup Decision and Negotiation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Collaboration engineering
  • Focus Theory
  • Group Support Systems
  • Project management
  • Project process management
  • Project progress tracking
  • Virtual project
  • Virtual team

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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