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The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management

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Megaprojects are very large investment projects. The team “Mega” often implies the size of the task involved in developing, planning, and managing projects of this magnitude. Bent Flyvbjerg, a professor at the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford says that globally, megaprojects make up 8 percent of total GDP. They attract a lot of public attention because of substantial impacts on society, economy, environment, technologies, and budgets, and their cost typically exceeds US$ 1 billion. Megaprojects include bridges, tunnels, highways, railways, airports, seaports, power plants, dams, wastewater projects, Special Economic Zones, oil and natural gas extraction projects, public buildings, information technology systems, aerospace projects, weapons systems, and large-scale sporting events; however, the most common megaprojects are in the categories of hydroelectric facilities, nuclear power plants, and large public transportation projects. Megaprojects can also include large-scale high-cost initiatives in scientific research and infrastructure, such as the sequencing of the human genome, a significant global advance in genetics and biotechnology.

The Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management, edited by Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg and authored by 44 experts in the field provides state-of-the-art scholarship in the emerging field of megaproject management. It contains 25 chapters written especially for this volume, covering all aspects of megaproject management, from front-end planning to actual project delivery, including how to deal with stakeholders, risk, finance, complexity, innovation, governance, ethics, project breakdowns, and scale itself. Individual chapters cover the history of the field and relevant theory, from behavioral economics to lock-in and escalation to systems integration and theories of agency and power. All geographies are covered – from the US to China, Europe to Africa, South America to Australia – as are a wide range of project types, from “hard” infrastructure to “soft” change projects. In-depth case studies illustrate salient points. Targeting students, academics, policy makers, and practitioners, the Handbook offers a rigorous, research-oriented, up-to-date academic view of the discipline, based on high-quality data and strong theory.

In his introduction Bent Flyvbjerg elaborates on the “Megaprojects Paradox” which is explained in the Handbook as follows: “On one side of the paradox, megaprojects as a delivery model for public and private ventures have never been more in demand, and the size and frequency of megaprojects have never been larger. On the other side, performance in megaproject management is strikingly poor and has not improved for the 90-year period for which comparable data are available, when measured in terms of cost overruns, schedule delays, and benefit shortages.” Megaproject planners and managers are stuck in this paradox. Similarly, substantial benefit shortfalls trouble many megaprojects. Regional development effects and environmental impacts often turn out very differently from what proponents promised. Cost overruns combined with benefit shortfalls spell trouble… Nevertheless, more and bigger megaprojects are being planned and built despite their poor performance record in terms of costs and benefits. This is why people engaged in megaprojects should carefully read this handbook.

IPMA´s Special Interest Group for “Megaprojects” together with OTMC Organization, Technology and Management in Construction, CACM Croatian Association for Construction Management, CAPM Croatian Association for Project Management and University of Zagreb organise a conference related to the topic of the handbook between September 28 and 29 in Poreč, Croatia. More information is available here: http://www.otmc2017.com/

- Author of this post

Sandra is Assistant to the IPMA President and Executive Director. Since joining IPMA in 2012, Sandra worked in FMCG sector as Customer Business Development Assistant for Procter&Gamble. She holds Master in Economisc from Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb. After graduation she continued at the same University the doctoral programme in Business Economics. Her particular interest in project management is related to megaproject management, PM schools of thoughts and cultural diversity.

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