Special Issue "Systems Thinking in Project Management"

A special issue of Systems (ISSN 2079-8954).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Julien Pollack

School of Civil Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia
Interests: project management; systems thinking; complexity; team building; methodology
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Lynn Crawford

School of Civil Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia
Interests: project management; systems thinking; careers; competence
Guest Editor
Dr. Kaye Remington

University of Technology Sydney, Sydney 2007, Australia
Interests: leadership development for complex projects; complex adaptive systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Projects and programmes are frequently delivered within highly contested socio-political environments. These forms of temporary organization provide a fascinating context for the study of systems because of their dynamic nature. Usually designed around time-bound or evolving objectives, they are vulnerable to influence from, and influence by, their internal and external environments.

Project management education and practice have been shaped by systems thinking, from early interest in Systems Engineering, which informed the development of industry-wide practice guides and standards, to later interest in Soft Systems Methodology and the increasing interpretivist emphasis in the field. Project management is essentially practice-based. Further research into the application of systems thinking to project management will provide a valuable stimulus to the evolution of project management as a discipline.


  • Systems thinking approaches to conflict management in large-scale and protracted projects
  • Problem structuring and solution-space definition in ill-defined projects
  • Systemic exploration of emergent risk scenarios
  • The systemic interaction between a project and the broader organizational context
  • Application of systems thinking to megaprojects in politically contested environments
  • How the application of system thinking varies with the size of projects
  • Conscious and unconscious application of systems thinking in projects
  • Systemic stakeholder engagement
  • Resolution of complex social issues structured as a project
  • Personal capabilities needed by project managers to think systemically
  • Systems and patterns of communication in projects
  • Contradictions and synergies between projects and organizations through the lens of systems thinking
  • Systems approaches to multi-leader/multi-organizational governance of projects
  • How systemic approaches to multi-methodology and pluralism can inform project management practice
  • How deterministic and non-deterministic thinking have influenced project management
  • How systems thinking is changing approaches to managing multiple stakeholders
  • Systems thinking in project analytics
  • Use of systemic analytics to manage complex projects in real time
  • Visualising complex relationships through systems thinking models and techniques
  • Use of systems thinking to manage geographically distributed projects
  • Systemic approaches to managing programmes and portfolios

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Julien Pollack
Prof. Dr. Lynn Crawford
Dr. Kaye Remington
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Project Management
  • Program Management
  • Portfolio Management

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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