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2021/2022  KAN-CINTO4002U  Managing IT Project Complexities

English Title
Managing IT Project Complexities

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory (also offered as 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
Study Board for BSc/MSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Stefan Henningsson - Department of Digitalisation
Main academic disciplines
  • Information technology
  • Project and change management
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 24-06-2021

Relevant links

Learning objectives
  • Understand and explain key terms, definitions, concepts, theories and models about IT project management challenges covered in the course.
  • Present a clear and coherent argument for your choice of relevant theories and models including their advantages and limitations in the analysis of project management challenges.
  • Apply the selected key terms, definitions, concepts, theories and models in a systematic analysis of project management cases.
  • Discuss and reflect on practical and theoretical implications for IT project management resulting from the analysis of cases.
  • Produce a clear and meaningful narrative that follows academic writing conventions; e.g.; proper references, a clear structure, and well articulated arguments.
Course prerequisites
Familiarity with the basic concepts and techniques of IT project management, such as team composition, and techniques for project planning and control.
Please contact the teacher for advice if you do not know whether you qualify.
Managing IT Project Complexities:
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 Written assignment
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and external examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Description of the exam procedure

For the exam, the students will be asked to select and apply theories covered in the course to project management case(s).

Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

Complexity in contemporary project management

The context and conditions of contemporary IT software and systems are complex and constantly changing. While traditional large scale (in house or vendor based) monolithic projects are still carried out, today's software and systems development range from small phone apps to large complex inter-organizational systems, and from embedded software to standard products. Projects may involve several teams and vendors from different continents. At the same time, development paradigms, principles, and practices have evolved from the traditional waterfall over agile to current explorations into continuous delivery and deployment.


The IT organization needs structures and governance mechanisms that allows it to prioritize and manage its portfolio of projects and programs, and stay tuned with a rapidly changing business environment.


Project and program managers must have a holisitic understanding of the organizational, technical, and cultural context and challenges in order to navigate in this complex context.


The course builds on the students' knowledge about basic project management concepts, techniques and challenges, and discusses current project and program management challenges and dilemmas. The aim of the course is to improve the students' ability to become reflective project managers in multiple contexts and settings.

Description of the teaching methods
The course combines theory and research with case analyses. There are 10 sessions of 3 hours each. A session consists of

- Overview of theory and research about the topic (one hour)
- Discussion of theory. Case analysis and discussion and case analysis (2 hours)

Students are expected to have read the material and prepared a case analysis before class.

The exam assignment is based on the topics, insights and analyses in the sessions.
Feedback during the teaching period
Feed-back during the teaching period:
Active student participation in theory discussions and case analyses is expected in the course.

The discussion of theory will be a mix of presentations by lecturers and students. The students will get feedback to their presentation and contribution to the discussion.

In the case analyses, students are expected to present and explain their answers to the questions and dilemmas in the cases. Feedback consists of comments and suggestions from peers and instructors to the presentation and the contribution to the discussion.

Students can get individual feedback to questions during office hours.
Student workload
Lectures and in class activities 30 hours
Reading course material 65 hours
Preparing case analyses 41 hours
Exam preparation and exam 70 hours
Expected literature

The literature can be changed before the semester begins. Students are advised to consult the syllabus on Canvas before buying any materials.


The course readings consist of research papers and cases.


Accenture (2015). Overlay Report: Assistance for analysis of “Et fælles inddrivelsessystem”. Accenture Consulting, Copenhagen. https:/​/​www.skm.dk/​media/​1263515/​Accenture-Overlay-Report.pdf

Andersen, K., N. and Nørbjerg, J. (2018). Runaway Big Time: The Danish Debt Recovery IT-System. Pre-ICIS Workshop on E-Government, San Francisco, California 2018

Babb J.S., Hoda R., Nørbjerg J. (2014) XP in a Small Software Development Business: Adapting to Local Constraints. In: Commisso T.H., Nørbjerg J., Pries-Heje J. (eds) Nordic Contributions in IS Research. SCIS 2014. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 186. Springer, Cham

Basten, D., Joosten, D., Mellis, W., & Wallmueller, C. (2014). Keep IT simple – The challenge of interlacted IT architecture at Gothaer Systems. Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases, 4, 34–40.

Blichfeldt, B. S. & Eskerod, P. (2008). Project portfolio management - There's more to it

than what management enacts. International Journal of Project Management. 26, 357-365.

Conboy, K. (2009). Agility from First Principles: Reconstructing the Concept of Agility in Information Systems Development. Information Systems Research, 20(3), 329-354.

Cooper, R.G., Edgett, S.J. & Kleinschmidt, E.J., (2001), Portfolio management for new

product development: Results of an industry practices study, R&D Management 31(4).

De Haes, S. and Van Grembergen, W. (2004). IT governance and its mechanisms. Information Systems Control Journal, 1, 27-33.

Flyvbjerg, B. (2016). The fallacy of beneficial ignorance: A test of Hirschman’s hiding hand. World Development, 84, 176-189.

Flyvbjerg, B., Budzier, A. (2011). Why Your IT Project May Be Riskier than You Think. Harvard Business Review, 89(9), 601-603.

Grainger, N., & McKay, J. (2015). The long and winding road of enterprise system implementation: finding success or failure? Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases, 5(2), 92-101.

Gregory, R. W., Keil, M., Muntermann, J., & Mähring, M. (2015). Paradoxes and the Nature of Ambidexterity in IT Transformation Programs. Information Systems Research, 26(1), 57-80. doi:doi:10.1287/​isre.2014.0554

Javed, T., Manzil, E. M., & Durrani, Q. R. (2006). Managing geographically distributed clients throughout the project management life cycle. Project Management Journal, 37(5), 76-87.

Jöhnk, J., Oesterle, S., Winkler, T., Nørbjerg, J., & Urbach, N. (2019). Juggling the Paradoxes – Governance Mechanisms in Bimodal IT Organizations. Paper presented at the Twenty-Seventh European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS2019), Stockholm-Uppsala, Sweden.

Kovasznai, D., & Willcocks, L. (2012). Escalation in global outsourcing projects: the XperTrans–C&C BPO case. Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases, 2(1), 10-16.

Kreiner, K. (2014). Restoring project success as phenomenon. In Advancing research on projects and temporary organizations (pp. 19-38). Copenhagen Business School Press.

Kreiner, K. (2020). Conflicting Notions of a Project: The Battle Between Albert O. Hirschman and Bent Flyvbjerg. Project Management Journal. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1177/​8756972820930535

Lauesen, S. (2018a): Damage and damage causes in large government IT projects. Version 9, http:/​/​www.itu.dk/​people/​slauesen/​SorenDamages.html (excerpts)

Lauesen, S. (2018b): Damage causes table, (excerpts)http:/​/​www.itu.dk/​people/​slauesen/​SorenDamages.html

Montealegre, R., & Keil, M. (2000). De-Escalating Information Technology Projects: Lessons from the Denver International Airport. MIS Quarterly, 24(3), 417-447. doi:10.2307/3250968

Mähring, M., & Keil, M. (2008). Information technology project escalation: A process model. Decision Sciences, 39(2), 239-272.

Persson, J. S., Nørbjerg, J., & Nielsen, P. A. (2016). Improving ISD Agility in Fast-moving Software organizations. Paper presented at the Twenty-Fourth European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), İstanbul, Turkey

Pinto, J. K. (2013). Lies, damned lies, and project plans: Recurring human errors that can ruin the project planning process. Business Horizons, 56(5), 643-653.

Schultze, U. (2014). IT project governance at Worthington Health-Care System. Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases, 4, 1–10.

Shollo, A., Constantiou, I., Kreiner K., 2015, The Interplay between Evidence and Judgment in the IT Project Prioritization Process, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 24(3), 171-188.

Thomas, J., & Mengel, T. (2008). Preparing project managers to deal with complexity–Advanced project management education. International journal of project management, 26(3), 304-315.

Turner, J. R., Anbari, F., & Bredillet, C. (2013). Perspectives on research in project management: the nine schools. Global Business Perspectives, 1(1), 3-28.

Wang, X., Conboy, K., & Pikkarainen, M. (2012). Assimilation of agile practices in use. Information Systems Journal, 22(6), 435-455. doi:10.1111/​j.1365-2575.2011.00393.x

Weill, P. and Ross, J. W. (2005). IT governance on one page. Social Science Research Network Working Paper Series.







Last updated on 24-06-2021