Inaugural lecture: Bent Flyvbjerg

Inaugural lecture: Bent Flyvbjerg

Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor and Head of Danish Institute for IT Program Management, Bent Flyvbjerg, will present his inaugural lecture in Auditorium 1 at the IT University of Copenhagen.

About the event

Friday, September 9, 2022 4:00 PM - Friday, September 9, 2022 5:00 PM

Auditorium 1, IT University of Copenhagen

Title: Regression to the Tail: Why IT Projects Blow Up, and How to Avoid It


In the inaugural lecture, I will demonstrate that IT projects are significantly riskier than assumed, and that their risk follows a well-defined mathematical-statistical law, which I call the "law of regression to the tail." Phenomena following this law – including wars, pandemics, and climate change – are characterized by infinite (i.e., non-existent) variance. Whereas regression to the mean is agreeable and predictable, regression to the tail is frightening and unpredictable.

First, I will demonstrate regression to the tail for IT projects. Second, I will argue it is a root cause of why IT projects fail so spectacularly, often with devastating consequences, undermining digitalization. Third, I will test whether IT projects fail more or less than other project types. Finally, I will discuss how regression to the tail can be curbed, through what I call "black swan management," and why this is crucial for project success in a world characterized by pervasive digitalization.

The research is from a new study forthcoming in the Fall Issue of Journal of Management Information Systems and in my book, How Big Things Get Done (Penguin Random House, New York, with Dan Gardner). The inaugural lecture is the first time the research is presented in public.

The inaugural lecture by Professor Bent Flyvbjerg will be followed by a reception in the Atrium.

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