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What you Should Know About Megaprojects

Access to seminal paper by Bent Flyvberg added to PMWL

28 August 2020 – Dallas, London, Sydney – Access to a new resource has been added to the PM World Library (PMWL) related to the management of megaprojects.  The resource is a crtically-acclaimed paper titled “What You Should Know About Megaprojects, and Why: An Overview” by Bent Flyvbjerg at Oxford University in UK.  The paper was originally published in the Project Management Journal in 2014.

According to the abstract: This paper takes stock of megaproject management, an emerging and hugely costly field of study. First, it answers the question of how large megaprojects are by measuring them in the units mega, giga, and tera, concluding we are presently entering a new "tera era" of trillion-dollar projects. Second, total global megaproject spending is assessed, at USD 6-9 trillion annually, or 8 percent of total global GDP, which denotes the biggest investment boom in human history. Third, four "sublimes" –political, technological, economic, and aesthetic –are identified to explain the increased size and frequency of megaprojects. Fourth, the "iron law of megaprojects" is laid out and documented: Over budget, over time, over and over again.

Moreover, the "break-fix model" of megaproject management is introduced as an explanation of the iron law. Fifth, Albert O. Hirschman's theory of the Hiding Hand is revisited and critiqued as unfounded and corrupting for megaproject thinking in both the academy and policy. Sixth, it is shown how megaprojects are systematically subject to "survival of the unfittest," explaining why the worst projects get built instead of the best. Finally, it is argued that the conventional way of managing megaprojects has reached a "tension point," where tradition is challenged and reform is emerging.

To access this report, go to  Scroll down to “Resources for Planning/Managing major Projects/Programmes”, click on “Megaprojects and Megaprograms”.  Must be registered and logged in Free Trial or full member to access.