Change project management in Maersk Line

Helene Thorup Larsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This study aimed at helping Maersk Line improve the utilisation of change projects due to a high number of unsatisfactory implementations. Even though the subject of change projects is becoming still more practically relevant, little empiric research has been done, hence the objective was to develop a new framework for strategic change project management that will provide more insight and a better foundation for designing successful change projects. Therefore the theory of this study builds on existing literature from the scientific fields organisation theory, project management and change management which forms the initial framework. The usefulness of this was tested through an interview investigation in Maersk Line which facilitated modifications, additions and validation of the final framework. The main point of the new framework for change project management is the importance of skilful and considerate leadership that can understand and act on the many contingencies affecting a change project rather than mechanic “how-to” management, hence the idea of revolutionary best practice solutions that can solve any problem for change projects was rejected. The core of the operational findings revolve around the influence of a centralised management style which will seek to overcome resistance instead of investigating the constructive aspects it may contribute, and handle changes in the environment through the hierarchy method with the risk of overlooking important changes. Further, the political aspect and top management support have crucial influence on the chances of success, and the level of integration with the host organisation should be decided based on a compromise between preparing the organisation and how radical the change is desired to be. Finally, the old and large organisations are at risk of not reacting early enough on changes in the external market which may be caused by a tendency to rely on resource endowments, and ultimately cause the company to fall behind its more responsive competitors. Based on the final framework and an analysis of the current situation in Maersk Line, a number of recommendations for improving the change project management in the company were developed. The developed framework was considered useful for the intended purpose, however, the opportunity to test the hypotheses through a long period of time measuring objective data when following different approaches would further expand the accuracy and extent of the framework.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages98