Cost–benefit Analysis, Planning and Innovation
Edited by Hugo Priemus, Bent Flyvbjerg and Bert van Wee
Hans de Bruijn and Martijn Leijten 5.1 INTRODUCTION Information is crucial to good decision-making on mega-projects. No matter whether such decision-making concerns the technical aspects of implementation, the economic and ecological impact or the risks of a project, it is highly information-sensitive. It seems reasonable to assume that no proper decision-making can take place without the right information. The reality tends to be diﬀerent, however. Many decisions on large infrastructural projects have been insensitive to information. Flyvbjerg et al. have demonstrated the poor quality of cost–beneﬁt analyses (Flyvbjerg, 2004; Flyvbjerg et al., 2002; 2003a; 2003b; 2004; 2005). This seems easy to explain: the proponents of a project have an interest in low-cost estimates and therefore show behaviour that is qualiﬁed as ‘strategic misrepresentation, i.e. lying’ (Flyvbjerg et al., 2002). The remedies often suggested follow naturally from these ﬁndings. In some of the literature, we ﬁnd a decisionistic remedy, consisting of two elements: 1. 2. The right information must, and can, be gathered. Decision-making follows analyses; there is no decision-making without the right information and analysis. We ﬁnd this remedy in the older literature (Hall, 1980), but it can also be found in the more recent literature (Bell, 1998). Other authors point out that it is impossible to gather ‘the right information’. Flyvbjerg et al. reconﬁrm a general fact about mega-projects: rarely is there a simple truth about them. What is presented as reality by one set of experts is, in many cases, ‘a social construct...
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