PhD Architecture

Picture of pavilion in Selbu, buildt by students and teachers at NTNU. Foto: Robert Schmidt

PhD Architecture is a doctoral programme providing further education and academic specialisation to candidates with master level education. The PhD programme can be suitable for those who are aiming for a career in higher education or research, or for positions in the business sector or public administration. In recent years, the business sector has grown to appreciate the specialisation provided through the PhD programme. As a result, an increasing number of NTNU's PhD Candidates are able to get work in the business sector or public administration.

The PhD programme has a nominal length of study of three years, and consists of a training programme and a research programme. The PhD programme should:

- provide training in and experience from scientific work and methodology,
- be internationally oriented,
- be an integrated part of the research activities in each academic community,
- provide a foundation for leading work in business, administration, education and research.

Hallgrim Hjelmbrekke has defended his doctoral theses

Hallgrim Hjelmbrekke defended his doctoral theses “Aligning AEC Projects with Corporate Strategy. Project Governance as a Mean for Strategic Effect” for the PhD degree at NTNU November 3. 2017. 


In the thesis Hallgrim Hjelmbrekke raise the main question concerning how Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) projects can be better aligned to business strategies from an owner perspective.

In general, any investment in a new project is made in order to solve a problem, to change something into a more preferable situation and, in the end, to harvest the benefits. According international research, projects in general tends not to deliver the intended benefits. This seems also to be valid in the Norwegian AEC-industry. Characteristics of projects are of a lack of productivity, budget overruns, defects on the final products and dissatisfied users generating a tail of legal proceedings. Together, these factors indicate that the projects´ intended value for users and benefits for the owner frequently gets lost along the way in construction project processes. 

The intuitive understanding of these challenges, guiding the research presented, has been that all of those involved, including owners/clients, project suppliers and users, appear to lack what the author denominates as a holistic approach to their business activities.

The main findings and conclusion of this thesis are:
The discrepancy between the general needs of the organization and the projects carried out to improve performance consists mainly of a lack of project objectives grounded in general strategy, a lack of alignment between clients and suppliers, a lack of understanding of success (project management success vs. project success), and a lack of project strategy definition.

The research reveals a poor comprehension of the business context of projects within architectural and engineering companies. Implications for improved practice: Architecture and engineering companies need to create and deliver value, and a good starting point is to work more intensively with the client’s business objectives and to understand the causal relationship between design and the client’s benefits. More research should focus on the preparatory project management practices – e.g. the strategic approach to project success.

Geir K. Hansen, Professor, Department of Architecture and Planning, NTNU
Ola Lædre, Ass. Professor, Institutt for building and environment, NTNU

Scientific assessment committee:
Aaron Shenhar, Professor, Diamond Leadership Institute, USA
Kalle Kähkönen, Professor, Tampere University of Technology, Finland
Siri Hunnes Blakstad, Professor II, Department of Architecture and Planning, NTNU

Tore Brandstveit Haugen, Professor, Department of Architecture and Planning, NTNU

Hallgrim Hjelmbrekke has been a PhD candidate funded by the Norwegian Research Council and Rambøll as.
Hjelmbrekke are now employed in Multiconsult asa.