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Dr Nicholas Dacre

 PhD (Warwick), MSc, SFHEA, FAPM
Associate Professor Project Management

Research interests

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Project Management: Exploring the transformative role of AI in enhancing decision-making and efficiency within project management.
  • Agile Project Management (APM): Investigating the adaptive strategies of Agile methodologies to enhance project delivery by promoting flexibility, adaptability, and rapid response to change.
  • Innovation, Technology, & Sustainability in Complex Projects (ITS Complex): Delving into the interplay between innovation, technology, and sustainability, and how their convergence advances the management of complex projects.

More research

Accepting applications from PhD students.

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Dr Nicholas Dacre is the Director of the Advanced Project Management Research Centre (APROM), and an Associate Professor of Project Management.

Nicholas is a Fellow of the Chartered Association for Project Management (FAPM), Vice Chair of the British Academy of Management Project Management Special Interest Group, and a sitting Committee Member of the APM Wessex Branch.


As an Associate Professor of Project Management, an award-winning researcher, and an accomplished academic, Dr Nicholas Dacre has over two decades of leadership experience in both academia and industry. He leads a diverse portfolio of research-intensive activities in partnership with national and international partners. Dr Dacre's collaborations amongst others, extend to colleagues at the Universities of Warwick, Sheffield, Sussex, Manchester, Lund (Sweden), and Southampton. His responsibilities include securing and managing research grants from various councils and funding bodies, such as Innovate UK (UKRI), the Chartered Association for Project Management (APM), the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI).

Dr Dacre's research is particularly focused on emergent ‘ITS Complex’ topics, addressing Innovation, Technology, and Sustainability in Complex Projects. He places a special emphasis on the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within Project Management, aiming to explore the transformative role AI can play in enhancing decision-making processes and efficiency. His research in Agile Project Management (APM) investigates the adaptive strategies of Agile methodologies to enhance project delivery by promoting flexibility, adaptability, and rapid response to changes. Additionally, his research delves into the interplay between Innovation, Technology, and Sustainability, scrutinising how their convergence can significantly advance the management of complex projects. A key part of this exploration includes the study of Dynamic Conditions for Project Success (DCPS), a concept that addresses the ever-changing landscape and requirements for successful project outcomes in today's increasingly complex project environments. Through this focused research agenda, Dr Dacre is contributing to the advancement of project management as a discipline, ensuring its relevance and impact in addressing contemporary and future challenges.

As the Director of the Advanced Project Management (APROM) Research Centre, Nicholas has the privilege of leading a community of scholars and practitioners by implementing a strategy centred on inclusivity, collaboration, and knowledge exchange. The research centre benefits from the support of an interdisciplinary network of academics and corporate partners, including the APM, Arcadis, ARUP, Atos, BBC, Care Quality Commission, Department for Environment, Department for Transport, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), DHL, Engie, Gleeds, Greyfly, HM Revenue & Customs, International Nuclear Services, Jacobs Solutions, Ministry of Defence, National Highways, Network Rail, Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM), Office for National Statistics (ONS), PMI, Proicere, Royal Opera House, Siemens, Transport for London (TfL), TPGroup, Turner & Townsend, UK Parliament, and Wood. This collective enables the APROM Research Centre to produce world-class, impactful research that benefits local, national, and international communities and businesses.

Latest Research

The examination of digital transformation in relation to project management occupies a central position for theoretical and empirical analysis. The emergence of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Economy represents a crucial era that requires a critical reassessment of current paradigms and proficiencies within the field of project management. As such, Dr Nicholas Dacre is leading a multidisciplinary team of academics to investigate the paradigmatic shifts produced by digital transformation within the context of:

The research team includes the following academics:

The research posits a fundamental enquiry: 'How is digital transformation impinging upon the requisite methodologies and competencies for project management professionals in both the public and private spheres, and what recalibrations are imperative to harness the potentialities of current and emergent digital technologies for project delivery within the nascent AI economy?'

While previous research has underscored the pivotal role of project management in the successful execution of digital transformation initiatives, there exists a scarcity of research focused on the interplay between digital transformation and project management competencies within both the public and private sectors. As such, this study employs a triangulated research design, commencing with a systematic literature review to map current epistemological knowledge and identify prevailing gaps. This is complemented by a cross-sectional survey designed to capture empirical data on the perceptions, experiences, and adaptive strategies of project management professionals navigating the dimensions of the digital transformation landscape. Following the survey, semi-structured interviews are conducted with a purposely selected cohort of project management practitioners and thought leaders from both sectors.

Doctoral Students

  1. Chen Zhang
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  2. Da Xu
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  3. Fredrik Henry Erik Kockum
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  4. Jingyang Yan
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    First/primary/lead supervisor
  5. Parbinder Kaur Bhullar
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    First/primary/lead supervisor
  6. Patcharin Sonjit
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    First/primary/lead supervisor
  7. Peter Lubosi Simasiku
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  8. Simbarashe Mudambi
    Doctor of Business Admin (DBA)
    First/primary/lead supervisor
  9. Vasileios-Krallis Gkogkidis
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    First/primary/lead supervisor
  10. Yundi Zhang
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  11. Yu Kuang
    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Enrol for a PhD in Project Management

  • Are you interested in pursuing a PhD in Project Management, Operations Management, Supply Chain Management, or a related discipline?
  • Email a copy of your research proposal to:

Pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Southampton and the Advanced Project Management Research Centre (APROM) represents a unique opportunity to engage with cutting-edge research and contribute to the forefront of knowledge in Project Management, or a related discipline.

As a Russell Group University, we pride ourselves on our dedication to research excellence and our inclusive academic community. Our commitment to fostering innovation and critical thinking ensures that our doctoral candidates are equipped to address complex research and professional challenges. Graduates from our programme are distinguished by their depth of knowledge, research skills, and ability to impact both academic and practical realms.

  • At APROM, we believe in nurturing the next generation of project management scholars and professionals who will lead and innovate in a rapidly evolving global landscape

Within this framework, potential doctoral applications may explore themes such as the integration of Artificial Intelligence in Project Management, the agility and resilience of project management methodologies in rapidly changing environments, or the role of innovation and sustainability in complex project ecosystems. These areas align with the university's strengths in fostering research that is both pioneering and relevant to contemporary challenges.

One of the preferred approaches to completing your doctoral programme, is via the paper publication route, which offers a distinct advantage, allowing you to focus on producing high-quality, publishable research papers. Each paper, potentially focusing on distinct aspects of project management, will underpin your doctoral journey. This approach will not only facilitate the dissemination of your research findings to a broader audience but also positions you as a thought leader in project management. It ensures that you leave with a significant portfolio of work that demonstrates your ability to undertake in-depth, innovative research with practical implications for the domain of project management.

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