Previous Main Table of Content Print PDF Next


Emīls Pūlmanis
Professional Association of Project Managers, Latvia

Silvija Bruņa
Professional Association of Project Managers, Latvia

Žaneta Ilmete, Dr.oec.
University of Latvia, Latvia

Project management is no doubt one of the most rapidly developing industries in the recent years, and the quality of the industry is driven by a knowledgeable and educated project manager. One of the biggest problems in new project management systems is that anyone can call themselves a project manager (PM), since it is not a state regulated profession. The PM’s profession is no less worthy than any other profession, such as advocates, engineers, teachers, medical doctors and etc. So there shouldn’t be any problems starting to protect the profession. The authors propose to start with the employment side, which means that there should be state legislation on the PM profession standard and appropriate position in the classifier of professions. Currently project manager as a profession should be considered self-regulated, and the only dedicated regulation tools, methods and certification used for its professional competency's recognition are those developed by the public sector. The article provides suggestions for recognition of project manager's profession, with an object-oriented model for the profession's regulation. The offered recognition model and project managers’ profession regulation toolreflects the process and the relationship between certification, education, employment and legislative regulation. The object-oriented PM profession recognition model developed by the authors consists of three objects - certification/education system, employment, and legislative regulation.

Key words: profession recognition, project manager.


The global need for skilled project management is raised by such organizations as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Parliament.  The maximum total figure for expenditure for European Union (EU) for the period 2007-2013 is 862,363 million Euros. To be able to absorb the financing that is becoming available through the EU accession framework programs and ensure the funds are spent effectively and the projects accomplished successfully, the economies of the EU countries will need increasing numbers of qualified and certified PMs, familiar with the globally accepted methodologies and skills and competence in managing projects, stakeholder expectations, resources, and risks. 

Project management is gaining ever more importance in the activities of businesses and organizations. It encompasses all fields, and, in particular, those related to the introduction of new products and reorganization of organizational structures. It pertains first of all to the industries of construction and pharmaceuticals, culture and education, science and research, information technology. All of the above industries realize projects that reach rather high costs, therefore maximum return on investment is crucial. And it can be achieved if the project management is left to professionals well versed in the methods, techniques, and instruments of project management.

Administrative legislation could be considered as a business regulation tool that constitutes or constrains rights and allocates responsibilities for a certain profession. It can be distinguished from primary legislation (by Parliament or elected legislative body) on the one hand and judge-made law on the other. Regulation can take many forms: legal restrictions promulgated by a government authority, self-regulation by an industry such as through a project management association, social regulation (e.g. norms), co-regulation, or market regulation. One can consider regulation as actions of conduct imposing sanctions, such as a fine, to the extent permitted by the law of the state (Levi-Faur, David, 2010).

In a society or organization, a profession is based on a common body of knowledge, defined entrance barriers, a code of ethics, and professional associations (Kuwan, Waschbusch, 1996).

The assurance of quality of personnel and processes is a major concern of project-oriented companies. In order to analyze and to further develop the individual and the organizational competences maturity models have become popular. Maturities can be analyzed for individuals, as well as for different social systems, such as teams, temporary and permanent organizations, and even societies (Turner, 2007).

The methodological basis for the article is made up of the works of foreign authors, and research carried out by the authors.

The listing of literature provides references to works of both foreign and Latvian authors, and sources of publicly available information.

1. Existing system of PM profession recognition

Introduction of profession regulations has deep traditions; it has served as a protective barrier reducing competition in certain professions within a country and preventing other undesirable factors. For instance, some regulated professions established with a decree by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in the 18th century still persist in Austria (Kalns, 2008).

As the EU was formed, common recognition of education gained particular topicality. The EU member states had to solve issues relating to the conditions that must be met by a construction engineer, for example, to work in any EU member state.

In order to soften limitations, the EU established recognition systems for professional qualifications, which would encourage free professional movement of persons between countries. This principle corresponds to the EU establishment agreement and the new Lisbon agreement. Instruments for recognition of professional qualifications are established in the form of directives, which are afterwards included by each EU member state into its national legislation.

A candidate must have the documents required by law, certifying his/her education or professional qualification, and a special permit, to work in the regulated professions (doctor, construction engineer, or other); in addition, certificates issued by a professional organization of the respective field may be required. These conditions are binding for both employees and self-employed people operating in the regulated professions. This approach ensures compliance with unified qualification standards and recognition mechanisms for the regulated professions in all EU member states.

Professional regulation can always be considered a limitation, even if the need for it and its goals in general and in the particular situation in Latvia are sufficiently well-grounded. Analysis of the requirements of the field permits distinction of the following key objectives (not always in the same wording, but distinguishable in the context of the respective documents):

  1. protection of service quality and consumers’ interests;
  2. securing against unclear and unrecognized so-called ‘paper qualifications’ and distrust of the capability of some educational institutions to ensure sufficient level of qualification for their graduates;
  3. protection of the employment and service markets, including protection of the interests of certain professional organizations.

The potential and existing contradictions must be taken into account among the objectives, as well as between the objectives and the principles of acquis, which is one of the issues to be solved in the near future.

The limiting measures can be direct – requirements for certain confirmations of education and/or incorporation into a professional organization (for example, PMs’ associations and unions) and a certain professional certification procedure, or indirect – recognizing only regulated education/certification. The latter are indirect with respect to a person. The limitations can be analyzed and classified according to their objectives as well, such as: public safety, health and environmental protection, protection of consumers’ interests, service quality provision, protection of the interests of economic development etc. The third potential aspect of classification can be the role and legal opportunities of the governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations in the regulation process. Differentiating between and comparison of the national and EU interests can be an additional aspect of classification.

Consequently, the characteristics of the regulation types and management of the regulation professions should cover the following requirements and parameters:

  1. regulated education;
  2. set of proofs of education;
  3. additional professional certification concerning professional knowledge, skills and/or professional experience required after acquisition of the official education – in cases when education and professional qualification are separated and differing assessment procedures are applied;
  4. professional experience;
  5. participation or at least registration in professional associations or organizations;
  6. social insurance, financial risk, or civil liability insurance;
  7. licensing, including mandatory education and/or professional certification requirements and performed by state, municipality institutions, or professional organizations (associations and unions), for professions and businesses of limited accessibility;
  8. confirmation of professional programmes at state institutions (branch ministries) and/or professional organizations;
  9. accreditation of professional education programmes; supervision of the educational process and graduation tests, performed by state institutions and/or professional organizations.

Selection of combinations of the listed requirements based on the principle of free movement of persons and services forms a classification schema of modalities of regulation in accordance with the formulations accepted in the EU documents. The choice of classification that lies at the basis of these modalities of regulation and management characteristics is not merely an academic or technical issue – along with it we implicitly choose a certain political, legal or economic position with respect to the problems and priorities of the field (Rauhvargers, 2002).

The European Commission has currently begun work on updating the European Parliament and Council Directive 2005/36/EC (Council of the European Union, 2005). The EU plans to establish with the new legislation that professions regulated only in a certain country would have to be excluded from the list of regulated professions as of 2013. Considering that presently there are no initiatives for global solution of the recognition or regulation of PM’s profession, and based on the planned changes in the EU directives, it is about the time a discussion was begun on the creation of an alternative legislation system for project management recognition. Apart from application of the regulatory principles, the global practice is to also form field legislation on a national level. This means that, similarly to professions of other fields (such as medicine, law, or construction), regulatory framework for the professional activity in the field must be established. In this situation regulation would be ensured by, for instance, law on the professional activity of PMs, which would be a legally binding document including not only the definition of the PM’s profession, but also setting specific professional requirements. Such legislation should also include an international certification International Project Management Association (IPMA) recognition model.

The need for such legal regulation of the field is supported not only by increasing investment in economics and application of the public as well as private sector financing in the form of projects, but also by the necessity for protection for the name of PM as a profession.

2. PM profession recognition and regulation opportunities

PM is a separate discipline and a truly global profession (Carter, 2000). Project success is largely dependent on the PM’s job quality. On the one hand, a PM must have the professional knowledge; on the other hand, a PM must clearly define order and make decisions. If the above is not taken into account, the PM selection process, and the entire project from the start, is doomed to failure.

The biggest challenge in the new project management is to arrange the educational system of PMs. As there is an opportunity to get the master’s degree in project management and obtain the qualification of PM, it is difficult to link the professional degree with the PM certification system. There are still problems with accepting all the different kinds of existing certification processes (such as International Project Management Association (IPMA), Project Management Institute (PMI), Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE), Association for Project Management (APM) etc.) on a national level and include them in the national legislation.

The authors found that one of the biggest problems in new project management systems is that anyone can call themselves a PM, since it is not a state regulated profession. The PM’s profession is no less worthy than any other profession, such as advocates, engineers, teachers, medical doctors and etc. So there shouldn’t be any problems starting to protect the profession. The authors propose to start with the employment side, which means that there should be state legislation on the PM profession standard and appropriate position in the classifier of professions.

The next step and initiative should absolutely be to develop the national legislation and law on PMs’ professional activity. As PM nowadays is still a self-regulated profession, it could be too difficult to make such kind of legislation initiative. First of all there should be consensus between the actors of the project management field and professional organizations before the law is accepted on state level.

Figure 1: PM profession recognition system model

In Figure 1, the authors of the article reflect the existing and potential model of a PM profession recognition system. To ensure appropriate legal regulation of the field of project management, a common understanding and approach within the project management field should be achieved, which would then along with the respective government entities develop the necessary profession standards, profession classifier updates, and the umbrella law – on the Professional Activity of Project Managers. Only when a compromise is attained within the field, which can currently be considered self-regulatory, can we begin a discussion on the regulation of the profession. In the picture above, process is depicted by a left-to-right flow.

The object-oriented PM profession recognition model developed by the authors consists of three objects - certification/education system, employment, and legislative regulation. In order to achieve recognition of PM as a profession, we must understand the processes within each of the objects and observe the development process steps according to the flow indicated in the model. It is important to ensure a unified understanding of the industry and a coordinated application of standards in the certification and education system. For the employment model, it is important that the process begin with respective improvements to the legal regulation of employment relationship, i.e. the PM's profession standard should be developed and approved on a national level, the occupation classifier should be updated, and employers should be educated on the subject of hiring appropriate PMs conforming to the approved profession standard and employment legislation. If the above principles are observed, the professional organizations of the industry or the appropriate state institutions may propose legislation changes to the parliament, to include the profession in the list of regulated professions, or to develop a law on the professional activity of PMs.

At present, there is a profession standard for PMs updated and enforced by the legislation in Latvia. An initiative for recognition of the profession on a national scale has begun in the meantime. A draft law has been prepared and submitted to the responsible parliament commission for consideration.

Unfortunately, the practice in many countries, especially in the EU, is that professionals of various fields attempt to guide the recognition process along the opposite flow, i.e. first establish the profession in some of the national legislative documents, then define the requirements for the profession, and finally develop the certification and education programmes (shown as the right-to-left flow in the PM profession recognition system model).

The project management discipline has a long way to go before it can be considered a "state regulated profession" in its full sense within any national, legal, and social framework.

No matter what the profession, a professional body of practitioners is made up of three bodies, each a separate and sovereign entity focused on a different "craft" responsibility. These are:

The first requires a separate, usually State sponsored, accrediting authority that ensures the profession’s conduct for the public good. The problem is that of "quiscustodiat", that is, who polices the police? In North America and Canada, this authority is usually provided through some form of national legislation and a licensing authority. In Europe, there is no such initiative.

The second is the Discipline Advocacy. This is the role currently filled by national project management entities such as the Association for Project Management, the International Project Management Association, the Project Management Institute, and other national sovereign organizations in Europe, Australia and South Africa. The Chapters or Branches of these national entities provide advocacy of the project management discipline in full measure.

The third is the Commercial Support entity. This is separate from but inextricably tied together with the parent Discipline Advocacy organization. This entity provides commercial support that permits the separation of product marketing from disciple development. Only the Association for Project Management has furthered this separation. Much more can be said on each of these divisions of a professional body. What is clear is that organizational confusion is present in any national project management body of practitioners that fail to clearly define these responsibilities, and set out proper mandates for each (Curling, 1998).

As project management continues to be recognised as a field in and of itself, project leaders will be chosen based on their ability to successfully lead others rather than on their technical expertise, as in the past. Having a winning track record is the surest way to be considered competent. Expertise in leadership skills is another dimension in competence. The ability to challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage must be demonstrated if leaders are to be seen as capable and competent.

The next trait to be explored is laws to limit or otherwise restrict or control how the title or designation is used. Under the auspices of protecting the public from fraud, charlatans, or impostors, the use of certain job titles or descriptors are prohibited by law.

Each state sets its own requirements for licensure and individuals seeking licensure should verify the specific requirements in the particular jurisdiction.

Even with ensured licensing procedure, it may be unrealistic for practitioners to rely on licensing to guarantee competence in the occupation.  In the case of legal professions, the body of case law is an ever evolving, dynamic process.


Since project management and PMs can largely be considered self-regulated, historically several systems of certification and international standards of project management have developed, but still there is no discussion of recognizing the profession of PM on a national or international level.

Seeing that anyone can currently become and call themselves a PM, the prestige of the certified and educated PMs needs to be preserved by retaining their work quality and the name of the PM profession needs to be protected.

At the same time, it is necessary to settle the national legislation basis by recognizing PM as a profession, and to include it in the list of the regulated professions on an international scale. The establishment of such a system could be one of the business regulation tools and an incentive for the existing pseudo-PMs to obtain the knowledge appertaining to the profession on an academic level or by certification in compliance with the international project management standards.


Carter V. (2000). The Profession of Project Management, PMI Today.

Curling D.H. (1998). Globalization of the Project Management Profession, USA, PMI forum.

Kalns J. (2008). Decreasing Barriers for Regulated Professions, Latvijas Vēstnesis , No 25/26 (132/133).

Kuwan H., Waschbusch E. (1996). Zertifizierung und Qualittssicherung in der beruflichen Weiterbildung.

Levi-Faur, David (2010). Regulation and Regulatory Governance, Jerusalem Papers in Regulation and Governance, No.1.

Rauhvargers A. (2002). Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, Latvia’s Academic Information Centre, Riga.

Turner J.R. (2007). Gower Handbook of Project Management 4th edition, - Maturity Models for the Project-Oriented Company, Roland Gareis, Martina Huemann, Gower Publishing Ltd., ISBN-13: 9780566088063.

Council of the European Union (2005). Financial Perspective 2007-2013, CADREFIN 268, Brussels.

Previous Dalia Perkumienė, Danutė Kleinienė
          Maija Rozite, Aija van der Steina