Management skills

With the introduction of commercial archaeology, the management of the archaeological process, projects and people has become more important. Before commercial organisation, all management within archaeology affected only archaeologists who were mainly employed in universities or public institutions. The organisations of this profession were not a priority, as they were embedded in larger organisations. The number of people professionally involved with archaeology was also relatively small.

Commercial archaeology is both a consequence of and an influence on the enlargement of the archaeological profession. Nowadays, in countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, a majority of archaeologists is employed in commercial companies. With this commercialisation, contract archaeology came into being. This requires the introduction of cost-estimates, personnel-management, and project management.

Most developers work with a tight schedule and budgets and archaeology have to fit into this. To be succesful as a commercial company, archaeologists have to learn to speak the same language as the developers and manage their projects more tightly. Uncertainties have to be estimated and contracts have to be feasible for both parties. These aspects of management are often seen as a constraint on intellectual freedom and bad for archaeology in general. This is, however, not necessarily the case, as contracts never speak about the archaeological content of a publication. It is more an issue that, now, we have to do what we say we are doing and someone else is watching what we are doing. And when plans are changed, others have to be informed and often participate in the decisions being made.

Archaeologists could see this as an opportunity to make their work more transparent. This will enhance archaeological knowledge, as it becomes more easy to follow what others did. Of course, schooling is needed in developing these management skills of people within the archaeological field.