Historical Overview of Project Management in Developing Countries

Developing countries are characterized by low levels of economic and human development. Low per capita income is the indicator of their underdevelopment. Project management emerged in these countries as follows:
  1. The project model for managing development in the modern sense appeared with the centralized planning model of the Soviet Union in 1930s. Many developing countries adopted centralized planning model after the second World War. USA adopted this model in 1960 for Manhattan Project.
  2. The increased inflow of foreign assistance from developed to developing countries during the cold war years in 1950s and 1960s gave further impetus to the project model. Much of the foreign aid to developing countries was project-based. Projects become the primary means of translating development plans into action.
  3. During 1970s, the project management model was adopted by developing countries to implement complex development projects. Pure project and matrix project organization structures were also used. The total responsibility and accountability for the project from initiation to completion was entrusted to the project manager.
  4. The implementation of development plans and programmes in developing countries has come to depend heavily on project management. Effective project management is a dominant concern of public and private organizations. Donors insist on it to channel foreign assistance.
  5. The bureaucratic model of managing development has failed to manage change in developing countries. The project management model has been used widely by developing countries to implement projects at the national as well as local levels in present days.
Historical Overview of Project Management in Nepal
Nepal is one of the least developed countries of the world. More than 30 percent of people live below the poverty line. Its per capita income is about US 540$. It ranks low in the Human Development Index (HDI) of UNDP. The country's isolation from the outside world for more than one hundred years till 1951 kept it backward in terms of development. The project management in Nepal emerged as follows:
  1. The project concept is Nepal began in 1950/51 with a grant assistance of US $ 100,000 by USA. The planned development began with the implementation of the First Five Year Plan in 1956. Since then, Nepal had implemented nine development plans. The financing of Nepal's development plans has been heavily dependent on foreign assistance. Foreign assistance in Nepal is heavily project-based.
  2. The foreign aided projects in Nepal consist of:
    • Turnkey Project: Implemented by contractors through global bidding process. 
    • Donor Executed Projects: Donors directly execute the projects.
    • Nationally Executed Projects: Nepalese project managers execute projects.
  3. Project Management model appeared in Nepal during 1970s. The organization structure adopted for project was "Development Committee". It was an autonomous pure project organization structure for the management of a specific project. The matrix project organization structure has also been used in selected cases.
  4. INGOs and private sector are also using the project management concept since 1980s. BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) modality has also emerged.
    • Foreign Direct Investment in Nepal has also led to greater use of project management. Nepal has approved about 900 such projects till 2003-04. But very few of them are operational.
    • Today, the implementation of Nepal's development plan depends heavily on project management. The project management model is widely used to implement projects in public, private and non-government sectors.

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