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2018/2019  KAN-CBUSV2020U  The IT Manager as a Business Leader

English Title
The IT Manager as a Business Leader

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
BUS Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Stefan Henningsson - Department of Digitalisation
Main academic disciplines
  • Information technology
  • Management
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face teaching
Last updated on 07-02-2018

Relevant links

Learning objectives
After the course, students should be able to:
  • 1) Identify and characterize IT management challenges and opportunities.
  • 2) Describe and apply IT management tools and methods presented in the course literature.
  • 3) Analyze IT management problems of real world and argue different solutions how to address them.
  • 4) Reflect on the limitations of tools and methods in the course literature.
Course prerequisites
An introductory master level course in IT strategy (such as the B1 course of the Cand.Merc.IT-EBUSS study line), or similar knowledge.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved: 1
Compulsory home assignments
In order to be able to take the exam, the students have to pass the mandatory assignment of investigating and presenting a case of IT management challenges in a real world company. This report is made in groups of two to four individuals. The report is handed in and presented at the last scheduled teaching activity.

In case the student is not able to complete the task, it can be replaced by a written report plus a PowerPoint presentation (5-8 slides with detailed presentation notes).
The IT Manager as a Business Leader:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Duration 72 hours to prepare
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
The same mandatory report can be used, but the individual case analysis will be of a different case. The replacement tasks (see mandatory tasks description) should be completed by announced deadlines.
Description of the exam procedure

The students are handed a written case to analyze based on the course litterature. The students will get a case and have to perform an individual analysis of the case. The case and the task will be presented in more detail at CBS and published online for students who cannot physically attend.

Course content and structure

The course aims is to train the students in coping with the challenges and opportunities confronting a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in a modern business organization. Students will get the case background for a large number of realistic problem issues, and will be provided with different tools/methods potentially relevant for addressing the issues.
This course uses the IVK Case Series (see literature list) to examine important issues in IT management through the eyes of Jim Barton, a talented business (i.e., non-technical) manager who is thrust into the Chief Information Officer (CIO) role at a troubled financial services firm. The course follows Barton through challenges, mistakes, travails, and triumphs. We take this journey with him, commenting on and debating his choices and decisions. During his first year as CIO, Barton confronts issues related to skill and talent management; IT costs, budgets, value, and chargeback systems; priority setting and financial justification of IT investments; project management; runaway projects and underperforming vendors; security risks and crises; Web 2.0 policies; communications with other senior executives; vendor management; infrastructure standardization; support for innovation; and risk management. As Barton encounters these issues, we address them too, through associated readings. As we examine and critique both research and conventional management wisdom on these topics, we’ll derive a framework for managing IT as a business leader.

The course is based on case based-pedagogy, according to the Harvard method in combination with (rare) lectures, guest presentations, workshops and project work in groups.
Students will have to prepare for case discussion/lectures by reading the IVK chapter as well as other cases to be discussed on that day. Self study and class discussion should help the students to advance identification and characterization of IT management challenges and opportunities, description of tools and methods, and argumentation for relevance and solutions. 
In the exercises, students will have to work in groups with analyzing IT management problems and applying the tools and methods in the course literature. This will also help the students reflect on the limitations of the tools and methods.

Description of the teaching methods
Most of the course is organized as cased-based discussions where students and instructor in common analyze a given case to abstract strategies to deal with the encountered problems.

Group work will focus on investigate IT management challenges in real world, preferably Danish, companies of the students' choice.

Guest lectures will be arranged to contextualize and concretize issues discussed in class.

Powerpoint-based lectures will be extremely rare.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feedback to students is given during the weekly workshops during which the students mainly work on their respective reports in groups. Feedback is also given in relation to presentations in class.
Student workload
Lectures 24 hours
Workshops 20 hours
Case preparation and literature studies 98 hours
Framework development and presentation preparation 48 hours
Exam case analysis 16 hours
Total 206 hours
Further Information

Changes in course schedule may occur. Some guest lectures will be co-organized with other courses.

Expected literature

Main course book: 
"The Adventures of an IT Leader", 2nd Edition


By Robert D Austin, Shannon O’Donnell, Richard L Nolan. (2016) Published by Harvard Business School Press.

  • ISBN-10: 1633691667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1633691667


Additional cases and articles (tentative, will be updated with most recent readings):

Background material

  • “A Note on Case Learning,” Harvard Business School Teaching Case: HBS 899-105
  • “Understanding Financial Statements” Harvard Business School Teaching Case: HBS 5238BC


Articles and reports



Harvard Business School Teaching Cases

  • “Zara: IT for Fast Fashion” Harvard Business School Teaching Case: HBS 604-081 (download/purchase from HBSP website)
  • “IT Doesn’t Matter” Harvard Business School Teaching Case: HBS 0306B (download/purchase from HBSP website)
  • “Successfully Navigating the Turbulent Skies of a Large-Scale ERP Implementation” Harvard Business School Teaching Case:  HEC035-PDF-ENG (download/purchase from HBSP website)
  • “Volkswagen of America: Managing IT Priorities” Harvard Business School Teaching Case: HBS 605-003 (download/purchase from HBSP website)
  • “CareGroup” Harvard Business School Teaching Case: HBS 303-097 (download/purchase from HBSP website)
Last updated on 07-02-2018