Managing uncertainty for sustainability of complex projects

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reveal how management of uncertainty can enable sustainability of complex projects. Design/methodology/approach: The research was conducted from June 2014 to May 2015 using a qualitative deductive approach among operation and maintenance actors in offshore wind farms. The research contains a focus group interview with 11 companies, 20 individual interviews and a seminar presenting preliminary findings with 60 participants. Findings: The findings reveal the need for management of uncertainty through two different paths. First, project management needs to frontload important issues, which results in the need to use resources much earlier than noted in the usual stage gate approach. Additionally, the base organisation needs the capacity to both explore and exploit important issues. In the summarisation of findings, a tool is developed for the two paths to join efforts. Research limitations/implications: Further research is needed to reveal the generalisability of the findings in other complex project contexts containing “unknown unknowns”. Practical implications: The research leads to the development of a tool for uncertainty management for sustainability of complex projects, which is termed “UMSCoPS”. The model provides a guide for insight and understanding of uncertainty management. Originality/value: The previous knowledge on managing uncertainty for sustainability of complex projects is enhanced regarding the uncertainty management in complex projects. The approach to uncertainty has returned to the original notion of the “unknown unknowns”, and project management thereby leaves the widely used stage gate approach. The developed tool provides a fresh understanding of the challenges of uncertainty.

Translated title of the contributionprojektledelse for bæredygtighed i komplekse projekter
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)315-329
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • innovation
  • Project Management
  • Complex Product Systems (CoPS)
  • Uncertainty
  • Ambidextrous organization
  • Exploration and exploitation
  • Frontload
  • Project management
  • Complex projects

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  • Blue SDU seminar

    Tove Brink (Participant)

    9. Jan 201710. Jan 2017

    Activity: Attending an eventOrganisation or participation in workshops, courses or seminars

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