The Differences between an Internal and External Project Manager

Carlos Eduardo Yamasaki Sato, Ajantha Samuel Gnanaratnam


The differences between an Internal and External Project Manager (IPM & EPM) are usually overlooked in the project management literature. However these differences may have a significant importance when selecting a project manager, having possible adverse impact on the overall project performance if these differences are not properly considered. This paper elaborates a framework for the differences between an IPM and EPM and tests it against three organisations using quantitative (survey) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews) research methods. The research concludes that both types of PMs should not be viewed within the same light, as they each have a different role, skillset, issue management style and project success rate. In particular, IPMs tend to deploy a more ‘reactive’, whereas EPMs tend to use a more ‘proactive’ management style. Also, moving from IPM to EPM is frequently seen as a career progression. These differences may have major implications on how project managers are selected, promoted and recruited.


Internal Project Manager; External Project Manager; Project Type; Project Success

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