Projectors in seventeenth century England and their relevance to the field of project management

  • Kristina Zekonyte

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The current established historiography of the field of project management dates back to the
1950s and there is little known about the development of this field prior to the Second
World War. Critical scholars within this field have challenged the timeline for project
management. This historical research provides evidence of project practices prior to the
twentieth century by introducing the activities of projectors, who are currently
unacknowledged within the field of project management.
The title of projector was assigned to initiators and/or promoters of the idiosyncratic
activities that combined elements of public and private gain and were known in the period
as projects. The research investigates the genesis of the ‘projector' name and maps out the
activities of projectors and their involvement within English industrial and economic
development. Projectors and their schemes are explored through three different foci. The
first focus is archival, exploring a seventeenth-century project within the textiles industry
carried out by the projector Walter Morrell. This analysis highlights a number of practices
within Morrell's project similar to modern project management, and potentially informs the
history of project management. The second focus is through the lens of the late
seventeenth-century writer and projector Daniel Defoe, whose seminal publication on
projects was reprinted multiple times and consequently shaped public opinion on
projectors and the undertaking of projects, this focus was socio-historical. The third focus
relates to public-private interest, which played an important role in projectors’
undertakings and strongly influenced the connotation of the title ‘projector’. This theme is
examined through existing PhD theses of scholars who studied the activities of projectors
in seventeenth-century England. These three foci inform the contribution this thesis makes
to project management history. The originality of this work is in acknowledging the
activities of projectors within seventeenth century England, which has implications for
project management histories.
Date of AwardMar 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorMark Hughes (Supervisor)


  • Project management
  • projectors
  • projects
  • historiography
  • history
  • seventeenth century

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