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Megaprojects redefined – complexity vs cost and social imperatives

Published on Mar 5, 2018in International Journal of Managing Projects in Business
· DOI :10.1108/IJMPB-07-2017-0080
Alexandra Pitsis3
Estimated H-index: 3
(UTS: University of Technology, Sydney),
Stewart Clegg66
Estimated H-index: 66
(UTS: University of Technology, Sydney)
+ 2 AuthorsSw Burdon5
Estimated H-index: 5
(UTS: University of Technology, Sydney)
Sources
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview from the literature on how best to define megaprojects in contemporary contexts. There is a need for a definition that encompasses a complex matrix of characteristics, inclusive of positive and negative aspects, which are not necessarily industry or sector specific. Whilst megaprojects have often been described and defined in terms of cost, they are more accurately delineated by their convolutions. Intricacies arise from political intrigues surrounding funding of such projects and managing and governing complex social and organizational relations. Points for future research are also identified. Design/methodology/approach An analysis of international megaproject literature over the past five years combined with seminal works was undertaken, drawing on the broad literature of project and program management combined with elements of organizational theory. Whilst some examples are cited, in-depth case analysis has not been covered. Findings Albeit that the scale of some megaprojects is comparable to national GDPs, seven more characteristics beyond size have been identified, which distinguish megaprojects from large projects. These include: reach; duration; risks and uncertainties; widely disparate actors; areas of controversy such as dispute resolution; and legal and regulatory issues. Research limitations/implications The paper takes a broad overview and whilst some examples are cited, in-depth case analysis has not been covered. The overview does however provide a good synopsis of the future research areas that warrant exploration. Practical implications The paper identifies a range of analytical areas for major future research including further exploration of institutional analysis. Areas for further analysis include stakeholder issues; collaboration and understanding between technical and business personnel and reforming notions of procurement and contractual arrangements. Social implications Rigorous stakeholder engagement is critical for success in megaprojects, and collaborative learnings need to be exchanged. The longer term social and economic impacts need to be viewed as an imperative rather than a hindrance to the planning and execution of megaprojects and complexity rather than cost more aptly defines megaprojects. Originality/value The paper moves the definition of megaprojects to beyond measurement on the basis of cost to complexity and social and economic variables.
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AbstractThe rapid growth of construction megaprojects worldwide has triggered a growing number of papers published in this area in the past two decades, suggesting that construction megaproject management has become an emerging area in the field of construction engineering and management (CEM). This study aims to investigate the status and the trends in megaproject research by conducting a structured literature review. A total of 85 relevant articles identified from eight peer-reviewed CEM journ...
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After a parliamentary enquiry into construction industry malpractice, changes occurred in collaborative practices between clients and contractors in megaprojects within the Dutch construction sector. The enquiry meant that both clients and contractors were forced to acknowledge illegal practices of collusion and fraud. For those engaged in public–private relationships, a process followed of attempting to change collaborative practices. Three interventions in collaborative practices are recounted...
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Abstract Research on infrastructure megaprojects and community engagement is increasingly concerned with the cognitive factors that underpin engagement processes and actions. The ability of project teams to take the perspective of local communities is an important influence on how community engagement occurs. However this involves project teams confronting contradictions and tensions between local community perspectives and their own. Understanding how project teams respond to tensions between a...
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the relationship between the demographic characteristics of top management teams (TMTs) (i.e. age, gender, administrative level, senior management experience and educational background) and megaproject performance, with respect to schedule, cost, quality, safety and technological innovation. The results shed new light on the effectiveness of different types of TMT.,This paper collected secondary and objective data from 208 TMT members in 42 megaprojects an...
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Infrastructure megaprojects straddle multiple stakeholder boundaries who have an interest in the project and are affected by the project. Multiple papers in the literature stress the need for holistic approaches to stakeholder engagement, as existing approaches only address the concerns of the noisy stakeholders. This research proposes an innovative approach in which Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) is used for understanding stakeholder concerns, complemented by the use of Theory of Inventive Prob...
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Purpose Risk management and uncertainty in megaprojects is a flourishing topic in project management, while the unexpected is still a neglected matter. The purpose of this paper is to offer conceptual clarifications of the unexpected based on second-order-cybernetics and systems theory. While transferring findings from organisation theory to project management, the article provides fresh insights into managing the unexpected in megaprojects. Design/methodology/approach Being grounded on construc...
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore top government hands-on megaproject management model applied to Istanbul’s new airport megaproject. The study aims to find an answer to this research question: “How is the organizational design and management of a megaproject that has been alive in a confrontational socio-political environment and whose national strategic importance is high?” Design/methodology/approach Organizational theory and critical theory perspectives are used in this study. ...
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