Consider a medium sized research group, say a dozen people or more. It's typical in certain fields to have a project manager that looks after finances and other admin tasks. Sometimes the person will have a background in that field, sometimes no relevant academic experience.

I've come across some project managers who consider themselves very important and influential. I'm just wondering how much decision making power they actually have since the head academic ultimately calls the shots? Is it appropriate to appeal to the head academic if you disagree with the project manager?

  • Is this question really about academia? Lets have a group of engineers who's project manager is a sportsman who is not an engineer but has some experience in managing engineering projects; the answer to this case and your case seem to be the same. This question is not specifically about academia. – Enthusiastic Student Sep 17 '14 at 8:57
  • 1
    I'm afraid that in its current form the question is too broad to answer meaningfully. The meaning of a title like "project manager", and their responsibilites are too different depending on country, culture, line of business and rules of the company/organization. – sleske Sep 17 '14 at 12:40
  • 1
    I think the migration was a mistake. If the question is specifically about the "project manager" in a research group in academia, it might still be answerable - but as a question about the workplace in general, it's way too broad. – sleske Sep 17 '14 at 12:42
  • 1
    This question could be a good fit here, however in its current form it is not only overly broad and speculative but it is also not clear what you are asking and the only specific question you have is specific to academic settings. – enderland Sep 17 '14 at 13:25

I work with a lot of project managers. Generally they have the power to stop a project entirely or remove team members who are not performing from the project. Since they take care of the political aspects of the project as well as the financial they tend to be very powerful and not someone who you should get on the bad side of. In general, they are higher ranking than the technical team lead, so going to him in a disagreement will not likely get you far.

  • 1
    It really depends on which type of project team it is as well as the organizational structure and culture of the organization. A dedicated project team is different from a cross functional team. There are also organizations where the PM is subordinate to the technical lead (many DoD projects operate this way), or vice versa. It also depends on who the project sponsors/champion(s) are and how committed they are to the project. – Martin Fawls Feb 18 '16 at 3:23