Systemic project management


Martina Huemann (Project Management Group, Vienna University of Economics and Business)
Louis Klein (Systemic Excellence Group, Berlin)


Paper session and panel discussion

Call for Papers

While in contemporary society projects support the creation of considerable, economic and social value, still we miss out opportunities, as we have become accustomed to projects failing with rates up to 70 per cent. Projects rarely fail due to technical challenges. Project Management (PM) as we know it seems deprived of solid ground whenever different interests, opinions and ideas come together, whenever political concerns and cultural differences come into play. Certainties take a tumble and along with them, the entire project. How do projects gain stability in the face of political and cultural complexity? Initiatives such as the International Centre of Complex Project Management (ICCPM) are first steps in the process of finding meaningful ways to deal with complexity.

The nature and origins of PM have always intended to reduce complexity instead of following Ross Ashby’s law of requisite variety and looking for ways to enhance its inner complexity to cope with the complexity of today’s projects. However, in contemporary project management, projects are often considered as complex technical systems. This leads to the understanding that projects are technical endeavours and thus are managed as such. Project Managers have been educated in reducing complexity, and often focus on technical solutions, instead of a more holistic perception of a project in its specific context, including for example the different interests of project stakeholders.

We stress the perspective of projects as social systems, which leads to need for managing project structures as well as project contexts.  We name this approach to managing projects Systemic Project Management.

This symposium aims at bringing together experts from practice and academia to explore the state of the art of project management and to create a roadmap of what Systemic PM could look like.

Target groups

Project Manager, Practitioners and Academics