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2023/2024  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
  • Stig Strandbæk Nyman - Department of Digitalisation (DIGI)
Main academic disciplines
  • Information technology
  • Project and change management
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 02-03-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors:
  • 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
Release of assignment The Assignment is released in Digital Exam (DE) at exam start
Duration Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
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.


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. 


The course seeks to further students knowledge about the root causes of complexity, the human element in IT project management and how time and resources constraints are implicating the possibilities to handle project complexities. 


The course aims to strengthen both the academic and explanatory capacity as well as introducing hands on, practical means to deal with salient issues.   

Description of the teaching methods
The course combines theory and research with case analyses and hands on workshops. There are 10 sessions of 3 hours each. Typical 'lectures' will be sessions will combine an overview of the theory or concept covered in the session and discussions about the application to specific cases. These sessions are complemented with more hands-on practical workshops.

When relevant, 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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Morcov, S., Pintelon, L., & Kusters, R. J. (2020). Definitions, characteristics and measures of IT project complexity-a systematic literature review. International Journal of Information Systems and Project Management, 8(2), 5-21.


Dennehy, D. and  Conboy, K. (2020), "Breaking the flow: a study of contradictions in information systems development (ISD)",  Information Technology & People, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 477-501. https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1108/​ITP-02-2018-0102


Finding the edge of chaos: A complex adaptive systems approach to information systems project portfolio management

R Sweetman, K Conboy - 2019


Sweetman, R., & Conboy, K. (2018). Portfolios of agile projects: A complex adaptive systems’ agent perspective. Project Management Journal, 49(6), 18-38.


O'Dwyer, O., Sweetman, R., & Conboy, K. (2014). Exploring control tensions in IS project portfolio management.


O'Connor, M., Conboy, K., & Dennehy, D. (2017). Temporality in Information Systems Development (Isd) Research: A Systematic Literature Review.


Estevam, A., Dennehy, D. & Conboy, K. Using Flow Tools to Enact Control in Software Development Projects: A Cross-case Analysis. Inf Syst Front 24, 287–304 (2022). https:/​/​doi.org/​10.1007/​s10796-020-10081-w


Gerster, Daniel; Dremel, Christian; Conboy, Kieran; Mayer, Robert; and vom Brocke, Jan (2021) "How Fujitsu and Four Fortune 500 Companies Managed Time Complexities Using Organizational Agility," MIS Quarterly Executive: Vol. 20: Iss. 2, Article 5.
Available at: https:/​/​aisel.aisnet.org/​misqe/​vol20/​iss2/​5


Gerster, Daniel; Dremel, Christian; Conboy, Kieran & vom Brocke, Jan: Managing Time Complexity with Agility: How More Considered Thinking about Time Helped Fujitsu to Set a Guinness World Record. , 2020






Last updated on 02-03-2023