Decision-Making on Mega-Projects
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Decision-Making on Mega-Projects

Cost–benefit Analysis, Planning and Innovation

Edited by Hugo Priemus, Bent Flyvbjerg and Bert van Wee

This book enlarges the understanding of decision-making on mega-projects and suggest recommendations for a more effective, efficient and democratic approach. Authors from different scientific disciplines address various aspects of the decision-making process, such as management characteristics and cost–benefit analysis, planning and innovation and competition and institutions. The subject matter is highly diverse, but certain questions remain at the forefront. For example, how do we deal with protracted preparation processes, how do we tackle risks and uncertainties, and how can we best divide the risks and responsibilities among the private and public players throughout the different phases of the project?
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Chapter 6: How to Improve the Early Stages of Decision-making on Mega-Projects?

Hugo Priemus


6. How to improve the early stages of decision-making on mega-projects Hugo Priemus 6.1 INTRODUCTION The research on decision-making in mega-projects tends to be dominated by the problem of cost overruns and disappointing operating results (Flyvbjerg et al., 2003; Altshuler and Luberoff, 2004; Pickrell, 1989; 1992; Morris and Hough, 1987; Short and Kopp, 2005; Bell, 1998; Wachs, 1989; 1990). This chapter will depart from this trend and explore another theme: the initial stages of decision-making on mega-projects. It is not uncommon in mega-projects for a solution to present itself early – the solution which suits the initiators and which then heads off in search of a problem. Hence the process rarely begins with a proper analysis of the problems involved and an impartial appraisal of the alternatives. Often, in the earliest phases, we see lobby groups hard at work mobilising support for a particular solution that is thought to be superior. Feasible alternatives are not even put forward, let alone analysed. Any alternatives proffered by opposing camps further down the line are usually too late. It is not unusual for the government to back the – supposedly superior – solution at an early stage. Alternatives suggested by others in later stages of the process are often whittled down to nothing. This chapter looks at the problem analysis at the initial stage of the decision-making process and at the general problem of alternatives that are not generated early on and are therefore mostly not given serious consideration. This chapter argues that, most of...

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