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Megaprojects and Risk
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  • 13 b/w illus. 10 tables
  • Page extent: 215 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.367 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521009461 | ISBN-10: 0521009464)

DOI: 10.2277/0521009464

  • There was also a Hardback of this title but it is no longer available | Adobe eBook
  • Published February 2003

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 (Stock level updated: 02:21 GMT, 10 October 2015)


Megaprojects and Risk provides the first detailed examination of the phenomenon of megaprojects. It is a fascinating account of how the promoters of multi-billion dollar megaprojects systematically and self-servingly misinform parliaments, the public and the media in order to get projects approved and built. It shows, in unusual depth, how the formula for approval is an unhealthy cocktail of underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, undervalued environmental impacts and overvalued economic development effects. This results in projects that are extremely risky, but where the risk is concealed from MPs, taxpayers and investors. The authors not only explore the problems but also suggest practical solutions drawing on theory, experience and hard, scientific evidence from the several hundred projects in twenty nations and five continents that illustrate the book. Accessibly written, it will be the standard reference for students, scholars, planners, economists, auditors, politicians and interested citizens for many years to come.

• Unique - first book to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date examination of Megaprojects • International scope and combination of theoretical analysis and empirical research will make it a valuable resource for academics, students, professionals, and decision-makers • Offers original analysis and practical suggestions for the successful management of Megaprojects


1. The Megaprojects paradox; 2. A calamitous history of cost overrun; 3. The demand for Megaprojects; 4. Substance and spin in Megaproject economics; 5. Environmental impacts and risk; 6. Regional and economic growth effects; 7. Dealing with risk; 8. Conventional Megaproject development; 9. Lessons of privatisation; 10. Four instruments of accountability; 11. Accountable Megaproject decision making; 12. Beyond the Megaprojects paradox; Appendix. Risk and accountability at work: a case study.


'Life is too short to read every tome penned by Scandinavian and German social scientists. But Megaprojects and Risk, written by Bent Flyvbjerg, Nils Bruzelius and Werner Rothengatter, is a cracker. In lurid and startling detail it examines dozens of vast construction schemes around the world.' The Times

'… impressive … Get the book and read the story. It's megamazing.' Law Society Journal

'I will use this book for many years to come in my urban planning classes … Anyone concerned with public works projects, planning, and ethics in public policy making should read this book. It provides a genuinely original perspective.' Martin Wachs, University of California, Berkeley

'This book is a warning against the betrayal of public trust when hubris and profit come together. It shows that some decisions are too important to be left only to the accredited experts; that there is no substitute for a post-normal science involving citizens' active participation … We should all learn the lesson brought home by this book, and never accept uncritically the experts' 'magic numbers' that are used to justify megaprojects.' Silvio Funtowicz and Jerry Ravetz, authors of Uncertainty and Quality of Science for Policy

'Reading this fascinating story … one is reminded of Enron and similar affairs … recommends itself.' Andreas Faludi, University of Nijmegen

'The book is provocative throughout, documenting the often dismal performance history of these huge projects and calling attention to the forces that make reform a formidable undertaking.' Civil Engineering

'Megaprojects and Risk is an important and innovative book. It should be required reading for any serious student of planning and project management, as well as for professionals concerned with the planning and financing of public projects.' Peter Hall, Institute of Community Studies, London

'… should be required reading for anybody in government with any role of budgetary oversight.' Moneyweb

'The book is of enormous practical relevance, written by a team whose empirical engagement with their material - and what important empirical and theoretical material it is - is exemplary … This is a social science that matters - because it makes a difference.' Stewart Clegg, University of Technology, Sydney

'… fascinating … Do read this book.' Financial Express

'… a thought-provoking book that presents a clear, concise, and readable argument to change the ways large infrastructure projects are managed around the world.' Environment & Planning

'For readers interested in project management, Megaprojects and Risk is a must.' Barbara Czarniawska, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Gothenburg University 'In particular, the aspect of unstoppable projects seems to be of pivotal interest and has been overlooked in literature on planning until recently. Flyvbjerg et al. fill this gap … a fascinating reading that convincingly illustrates shortcomings, pitfalls and strategies of megaproject developments … I can only recommend people to read this book even if planning, reform or risk analysis are currently only of remote interest to the reader - this book might change this.' British Journal of Sociology

'Many people talk about deliberative democracy, but few have actually done it. Megaprojects and Risk is an important contribution to the literature showing how it is possible for us to deliberate rationally and publicly about risk and those large scale decisions that are increasingly the concern of modern politics.' James Bohman, St Louis University

'Love them or loathe them, megaprojects capture the imagination … And Bent Flyvbjerg's damning analysis concentrates on a series of financial nightmares that should bring even the most casual reader out in a sweat.' New Scientist

'Megaprojects and Risk provides a fascinating look at the pervasiveness of misinformation in the planning of major construction projects and the systematic bias of such misinformation toward justifying project implementation. The power of its analysis is vastly reinforced by the range of cases examined, extending over seventy years and five continents. An extraordinary accomplishment, it will doubtless serve as the standard reference on this topic for many years to come.' Alan Altshuler, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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