Projects and project management (PM) are becoming a way of working, and many changes in society have evolved because of projects. However, will the societal agenda also influence the project management discipline? Societal issues generated by urban population growth and rapid urbanization arise in cities. Making a city “smart” and sustainable is emerging as a strategy to mitigate these issues. How does this development impact project management? In order to answer this question, we performed meaningful learning by mapping the concepts for Smart Sustainable Cities (SSC) and project management and developing prior and post concept maps. We identified four major findings describing the implication of societal issues on project management: quality of life acts as a societal objective for PM; PM governs autonomous projects with new business models; and PM success criteria are related to stakeholders and long-term effects, as well as extensive connection to the digital world with consideration of the privacy and ethics. From this, we were able to redefine the definition of project management as “a collaborative endeavor of all affected stakeholders equivalently participating in exploring and exploiting, via an autonomous temporary organization, fit-for-purpose deliverables with connections to the digital platform, thereby aiming to prepare the entities of the affected stakeholders for the future”. Our study is novel and relevant for PM and SSC practice: societal issues are on the strategy agenda of many governments and companies, and these will drive the projects that are performed in this environment. The project management community should align with this development, since these challenges are part of their environment. As a start, a comprehensive understanding of the impact of societal issues is relevant to build new definitions, competences, and supporting processes.
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