Flyvbjerg, Professor Bent


Bent Flyvbjerg

Senior Research Fellow

Academic background

Professor Bent Flyvbjerg is a Senior Research Fellow of St Anne’s College and the first BT Professor and inaugural Chair of Major Programme Management at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. He is also the Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor and Chair in Major Program Management at the IT University of Copenhagen. He works for better leadership of programs in business and government. He is the most cited scholar in the world in project and program management and included on Stanford University’s prestigious Top 2% of most cited scholars in the world.

Flyvbjerg is the author or editor of 10 books and 250+ papers, translated into 21 languages. He has pioneered research in behavioral science, including power bias, strategic misrepresentation, optimism bias, the planning fallacy, and reference class forecasting. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman calls Flyvbjerg’s work on the planning fallacy and reference class forecasting, “the single most important piece of advice regarding how to increase accuracy in forecasting” (Thinking, Fast and Slow, p. 251). Flyvbjerg also writes about the philosophy and methodology of social science, and especially phronesis. His latest book is “How Big Things Get Done” (Penguin Random House, 2023), with Dan Gardner.

Flyvbjerg is founder and co-founder of a dozen highly successful research groups, degree programs, and startups, latest at Oxford and ITU. His passion is to build new ventures from scratch, making them flourish academically, professionally, and commercially.

He has received numerous honors and awards, including a knighthood and two Fulbright Scholarships.

His research has been covered by Nature, Science, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times, China Daily, The BBC, and CNN. He is a frequent commentator in the news.

Flyvbjerg is a senior advisor to government and business around the world, including 10 Downing Street, the US and Chinese governments, and several Fortune 500 companies. He is an external advisor to McKinsey & Co. He has worked on some of the largest projects and portfolios in the world, on front-end planning, delivery, rescue of failing projects, postmortems, de-biasing, audits, and as expert witness. He advises ministers, C-suites, and boards on how to deliver their programs successfully.

Research interests

Bent developed the research methodology called ‘phronetic social science’.

This is described in his books Making social science matterReal social science: Applied phronesis and Rationality and power, and he has employed the methodology in studies of megaprojects and city management.

In 2005, Bent identified two main causes of misinformation in management and policy: strategic misrepresentation (deception) and optimism bias (delusion). Bent and his associates have developed methods to curb misinformation focused on improved accountability and reference class forecasting. The methods are being used in policy and practice; both in management and planning. In 2011, Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics and godfather of behavioural economics, singled out Bent’s research on reference class forecasting as ‘the single most important piece of advice regarding how to increase accuracy in forecasting’ (Thinking, Fast and Slow, p. 251).

Bent has lent his name to the so-called ‘Flyvbjerg Debate’, which is a debate over the role of social science in society in response to his book Making Social Science Matter. His research is widely cited in academia, policy, practice and media.

Find out more about Bent’s research.

Recent Publications

Google Scholar:

Papers (free pdfs):