What is it about?

This systematic literature review explores the megaproject management literature and contributes by improving our understanding of the causes and cures of poor megaproject performance. The review analyzes 6,007 titles and abstracts and 86 full papers, identifying a total of 18 causes and 54 cures to address poor megaproject performance. We suggest five avenues for future research that should consider examining megaprojects as large-scale, inter-organizational production systems: (1) designing the system architecture; (2) bridging the gap with manufacturing; (3) building and leading collaborations; (4) engaging institutions and communities; and (5) decomposing and integrating the supply chain.

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Why is it important?

For the first time, academics developed a systematic literature review of the causes and cures of poor megaproject performance. They identified six key themes and looked at areas where a megaproject might fail, analysing the problems and solutions. The study found that no isolated factor is responsible for failure in megaprojects, with a number of interrelated factors contributing equally to poor performance. The paper identifies six themes, which reveal 18 causes of poor performance and 54 solutions: 1. Decision-making behaviour 2. Strategy, governance and procurement 3. Risk and uncertainty 4. Leadership and capable teams 5. Stakeholder engagement and management 6. Supply chain integration and coordination The review suggests a research agenda with five avenues to advance the successful delivery of megaprojects: 1. Designing the system architecture 2. Bridging the gap with manufacturing 3. Building and leading collaborations 4. Engaging institutions and communities 5. Decomposing and integrating the supply chain


"We have emphasised the solutions rather than problems, in an attempt to shape the academic conversation to a more positive discourse and connect with the needs of senior managers delivering megaprojects. We recommend to explore megaprojects as dynamic inter-organizational systems - including stages of development, delivery, and operations - and identify strategies to design the architecture of the evolving system."

Juliano Denicol
University College London

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This page is a summary of: What Are the Causes and Cures of Poor Megaproject Performance? A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda, Project Management Journal, February 2020, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/8756972819896113.
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