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Supportive culture for efficient project uncertainty management

Jan Terje Karlsen (Norwegian School of Management BI, Oslo, Norway)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 5 April 2011




The purpose of this paper is to study the effectiveness of current uncertainty management practice in projects with a special focus on the organization's cultural dimension.


The empirical data were obtained using in‐depth interviews with project management professionals in three project‐oriented organizations in Norway, Statsbygg, Telenor and the Norwegian Defence Logistic Organization. All the respondents from these three organizations are people who actively work with projects and uncertainty management.


The study results show that a supportive uncertainty management culture is characterized by: positive attitude, commitment of time and resources, openness and respect, understanding of uncertainty management, uncertainty management internalized into daily work, senior managers asking for and using uncertainty information, proactive uncertainty management, a focus on opportunities, clear areas of responsibility, accepted and operationalized policy and terminology, and a holistic uncertainty view. Moreover, the interviews revealed that commitment, knowledge, communication, openness, and trust are factors that contribute to building a supportive uncertainty management culture.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should investigate other organizations, types of projects, and countries, so that these findings may be generalized.

Practical implications

This paper concludes that a supportive culture is important for achieving effective uncertainty management in projects. Uncertainty management practice will run more smoothly, there will be less problems and benefits of the uncertainty management activities will be more easily achieved.


A supportive organizational culture for creating a well‐performing management of uncertainties in projects is studied in this research paper.



Terje Karlsen, J. (2011), "Supportive culture for efficient project uncertainty management", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 240-256.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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