Logistical Challenges in Project Management: An Example from 18th Century Astronomy

Past event — 10 January 2020

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg, Room Forum / Small Egg

Spoken language

Profile image

Hon.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Klaus Brockhoff

Emeritus Professor

University of Kiel

Abstract : 

Substantial logistical challenges had to be mastered by astronomers in the 18th century to observe the Venus transits before the Sun. For astronomers, this promised to measure the exact distance between the Earth and the Sun. However, this could only be achieved after sending expeditions from primarily European locations to far away observation points in the far North or South of the globe. Challenges were to manage the expeditions, to find the funding from monarchs, trading companies or navies, based on arguments beyond the original objective. Further challenges were imposed on the expedition projects by substantial uncertainties to reach the observation points, among them wars, bad weather or illness. Only after merging the data from multiple expeditions, it was possible to make the necessary astronomical calculations at a reliable and valid level. For today, it is learned that mutual trust and joint scientific standards reduced transaction costs. Furthermore, less pressure of control reduced red tape in funding global operations.  


Klaus Brockhoff is emeritus professor of business administration. Among other as appointments, he held a chair at the University of Kiel, he was dean of WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, and after that, he served as the chairman of the board of WHU Foundation. He has published extensively on new product management, technology management, and recently on history of ideas in business administration. Parallel to his professorships he served on boards of companies and as a consultant to governments and private institutions. He is an honorary member of scientific associations and a member of two academies of science. He holds two honorary doctoral degrees. 

More about Hon.-Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Klaus Brockhoff: here