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) & Steve Reeve (Supervisor)


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

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