The Role of Deliverables in Project Work

Priscilla Rogers, Lisa Pawlik, Barbara L Shwom

Research output: Working paper


This study examined the role of deliverables in knowledge-intensive project work. Organizational genre studies, composition research, and object theory suggest that project deliverables (such as contracting documents, status updates, and final presentations) play a more comprehensive role in work activities than is examined to date. To explore this role we collected 1009 surveys from individual members of 214 teams after they completed initial, midpoint, and final deliverables during 7-14 week projects for diverse organizations. Scaled questions asked respondents to associate or disassociate deliverables with project activities; open-ended questions solicited information on value, learning, and client feedback. We also conducted 28 targeted interviews and participant observations of 35 projects. Findings show that deliverables serve three critical functions: operating as genres they control work by providing expectations for content, sequence, and timing; as drafts-being-composed they facilitate knowledge creation; as material objects they enable collaboration within and across groups. We elaborate these control, compose, and collaborative functions as the 3C Framework and explore implications for project management.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages38
StatePublished - Mar 2015


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