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2014/2015  KAN-CINTV1009U  Business Complexity

English Title
Business Complexity

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Spring
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Leif Bloch Rasmussen - DIGI
Undervises sammen med Ulrik Falktoft
Administrativ kontakt er Jeanette Hansen (jha.itm@cbs.dk)
Main academic disciplines
  • Philosophy and philosophy of science
  • Management of Information and Knowledge Management
  • Corporate and Business Strategy
Last updated on 07-03-2014
Learning objectives
After the course, students should be able to:
  • Describe relevant issues presented and discussed in the course
  • Evaluate different models, methods and theories, possibilities and limitations
  • Argue for the choice of models, methods and theories to handle concrete issues covered in the course
  • Demonstrate command of business complexity using a selection of models, methods and theories in concrete contexts
  • Reflecting on the theory and practice in business complexity
Business Complexity:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Group exam, max. 4 students in the group
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period May/June
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

According to the Global CEO Study (Capitalizing Complexity from 2010 and Leading through Connections from 2012) , enterprises are increasingly experiencing greater complexity. That be in internal processes, project portfolios, customer relations (consumers, prosumer and presumers ) , relations with competitors and / or partners , government and other stakeholders. But also the increasing use of ICT to handle business, local and big data, information, information exchange, knowledge sharing across countries, cultures and languages ​​, etc., indicates that businesses are often working under extremely complicated, complex and sometimes chaotic conditions. Best practices often turn out to be short-term gains with long-term implications, and many companies therefore use many resources to introduce new initiatives, trying to handle or reduce current problems, which again can cause new uncontrolled complex conditions.
Heterarchical organizations that optimize their core competencies through collaboration in networks through ICT, seems to have an ability to handle a greater degree of complexity. Some of them even seek an increase in complexity, to promote learning, experimenting in the market and increase strategic opportunities.
The increased awareness of business complexity and the problems and opportunities it brings, is now also identified in some academic circles. The neo-positivist business theory that is mainly investigated (and primarily taught) is mainly based on a post-industrial business logic that does not correspond to the circumstances contemporary businesses operate in. There is a need for new models, theories, techniques, and in particular: mindsets, which correspond to the complex situations, many companies find themselves in.
This course presents a series of models, methods and theories to handle (and not just reduce) business complexity. This is done through recent case studies, as well as newer theories that provide deeper insight into collaboration, networking, decision making, strategic alternatives, philosophy of science, critical analysis techniques, etc., which in combination offers a new mindset for handling business complexity.
Students are welcome to contact teachers with questions, comments and / or suggestions for topics concerning the course.

Teaching methods
12 lectures and 12 exercises

Note that lectures and exercises are combined as an integrated teaching. Learning is focused on transformative learning ('action learning'), and students are supposed to actively discuss and experiment with the presented theories, methods and models to become familiar with them and eventually be able to translate them into concrete practical actions.

Teachers on the course are Associate Professor Leif Bloch Rasmussen (CBS) and master.it in e-business Ulrik Falktoft. Other teachers and guest speakers and company representatives can be involved in the process.
Expected literature
C.K.Prahalad & M.S.Krishnan: the new age of innovation – driving co-created value through global networks, McGrawHill, 2008
David Snowden: Cynefin Model; www.cognitive-edge.com
Ralph Stacey: “The Science of Complexity”, in ”Complexity and Organization”, Routledge 2006
Otto Scharmer: ”Theory U”, BK Books 2009
Max Boisot: Knowledge Assets, Oxford University Press, 1998
Johnson, Neil F. (2007). “Two's Company, Three is Complexity: A simple guide to the science of all sciences”, Oxford
Axelrod& Cohen (2001) “Harnessing Complexity: Organizational Implications of a Scientific Frontier”, Basic Books
Herlau and Tetzchner: ”The Kubus Preject” (free download)
North and Macal: ”Managing Business Complexity”, Oxford University Press 2007

Furthermore other relevant articles that provide new insights, theories, practices or provide perspectives.
Last updated on 07-03-2014