Managing public–private megaprojects: Paradoxes, complexity, and project design (van Marrewijk et al., in press)

Megaproject Culture (1) Megaproject Culture (2)

van Marrewijk, Alfons; Clegg, Stewart R.; Pitsis, Tyrone S.; Veenswijk, Marcel: Managing public–private megaprojects: Paradoxes, complexity, and project design; in: International Journal of Project Management, in press.

Marrewijk et al. compare the project designs, daily practices, project cultures and management approaches in two case studies. The authors explore how actors on these megaprojects make sense of uncertainty, ambiguity and risk. They show that project design and project cultures influence cooperations between key players on the project.

They argue that each project has a specific project culture with subcultures, conflicts, powers, and cultural ambiguity. Thus making the staff of a project a modern tribe distinguishing themselves from the rest of the working world (and the parent corporation) via artifacts, practices, and values. Projects show multiple cultures, power relations, conflicts, and abnormalities just like any larger society. Post-Positivism research has shown the impact of the project culture on project’s success or failure. Unfortunately the authors found that megaprojects have a higher tendency than normal to develop a dysfunctional project culture.

Moreover Marrewijk et al. analyse the cultural strategies of change and the cultural forms, practices, and content themes found in their two megaproject case studies. Finally they outline how culture and project design influence a public-private partnership project. They conclude that there are 2 critical success factors on how to design a project organisation which can create a non-dysfunctional project culture.

  1. Design power relations between all players in the project in a way that balances these
  2. Design accountability in way that is NOT a zero-sum game and which serves the self-interest of all involved parties and individuals

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