Project Management in the Danish Central Government


  • Karl Löfgren Victoria University of Wellington, School of Government
  • Birgitte Poulsen Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University



Project management, Denmark, Civil service, Job advert, Role analysis


While project management (PM) has become an almost constituting element of modern public organisations, empirical research on PM in the civil service, let alone government offices, has been overlooked. In this article, we will on the basis of public organisation recruitment efforts illustrated through a textual analysis of job adverts for the Danish Civil Service, analyse how the individual roles related to project management in civil service organisation from 1982 until 2011 has emerged in terms of the following dimensions: a) the project managerial role, b) required competences for PM, c) whether the role of PM refer to internal or external projects, d) which stages of the policy cycle which are subject to PM, e) and whether we are talking about permanent project management organisations or just temporary projects. These questions are then applied on a minor empirical textual analysis of job adverts in a Danish professional journal in the period of 1982-2011 with the aim of generating a couple of hypotheses. The results of the study shows that project management has permeated throughout the central service, but also that the pro- ject management has become a term used inequitably for describing all forms of work-life in modern bureaucracies. Also, we identify a number of hypotheses for future works. First, project management in the Danish civil service is not a managerial role. Second, by requesting project management competence, the investigated ministries were looking for certain interpersonal skills, and not transferable PM competences. Finally, being a project manager in the Danish civil service means being ready for internal projects, not to work more cross-sectoral with other actors.


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Author Biographies

Karl Löfgren, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Government

Karl Löfgren, PhD, Associate Professor at the School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington. He is currently involved in research on social surveillance, democratic audit and electronic government. 2007-2010 he was research leader for a Nordic network on local democratic governance with participants from the five Nordic countries. Recent publications include articles in Public Policy and Administration, Planning Theory, Local Government Studies, NORDEUROPA Forum, International Journal of Public Administration.

Birgitte Poulsen, Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University

Birgitte Poulsen, PhD, Associate Professor in public administration at the Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University and member of the Centre for Democratic Network Governance. Her research profile broadly covers public administration and public management with a particular emphasis on public sector organization, and the roles and identities of civil servants. Currently she is working within the research programme “Contested Administrations–Conflict Resolution and the Improvement of Democracy” that is funded by the Swedish Research Council and runs until 2015. The research programme aims to investigate public administration’s capability to address and possibly resolve contested issues and conflicts in order to increase equality, strengthen processes of integration, and build social solidarity in democratic systems.




How to Cite

Löfgren, K., & Poulsen, B. (2013). Project Management in the Danish Central Government. Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, 17(2), 61–78.

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