International Handbook on Mega-Projects
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International Handbook on Mega-Projects

Edited by Hugo Priemus and Bert van Wee

This comprehensive and accessible Handbook presents state-of-the-art research on the decision-making processes in the deliverance of mega-projects – large infrastructure projects for the transportation of people and/or goods.
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Chapter 2: Strategic and tactical performance of mega-projects – between successful failures and inefficient successes

Knut Samset


Measuring success in mega-projects is not a simple and straight forward undertaking. This is because the term ‘success’, used as an indicator, is a highly complex and aggregated measure. One reason is that it may be interpreted differently by different individuals and institutions. Another, that it tends to be measured differently in different types of mega-projects, depending on the nature of their immediate outputs and long-term outcome. Also, different individuals tend to assess the success of the same mega-depending on their preferences, values and to what degree they are affected by the project. And finally, the degree of success is time-dependent. For instance, Shenhar et al. (2001) offer a chronological sequence of events as a compound definition of project success: (1) meeting time, budget and other requirements, (2) impact on the customer, (3) benefit to the performing organization, and (4) preparing the future. The project’s stakeholders do not necessarily share the same view of success. The project manager typically sees his or her job successfully accomplished when the project is on time, within budget and to specifications. The users will be concerned about the immediate effects of the project, and the investor or commissioner will typically be more concerned with the long-term economic viability.

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