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What Have We Learned From Mega-Projects by Now?

Bruce Hallock, Jim Zack

The construction project delivery environment has undergone dramatic changes due to Globalization and growth in both project size and complexity.   In the past three decades we have seen the rise of the megaproject, large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost over a billion dollars; take many years to develop and construct; and involve multiple public and private stakeholders.   Megaprojects are not just magnified versions of smaller projects. Megaprojects are a completely different breed of project in terms of their level of aspiration, lead times, complexity, and stakeholder involvement. Consequently, they are also a very different type of project to manage.  As a result, these projects are taxing the ability of contractors to deliver these behemoths with a high standard of quality and safety, as well as on time and within budget. They are equally a challenge to the owners’ level of sophistication in contract management, which exposes the project to increased risk for massive delays and cost overruns as well as numerous contractor claims.  In addition, these projects often put a strain on the countries’ infrastructure, which often do not have the capacity or resources that can deal with such massive logistics.

In this very risky area of management, best appears to be the exception and average practice a disaster. The question that must be asked is, “Isn’t there a better way?”  The panelists will address the significant challenges of megaprojects considering their unique characteristics and the lessons learned in their success and failure in meeting these challenges, and how they can bring about better results on future megaprojects. The Panel will explore the challenges of megaprojects considering: What are the characteristics of megaprojects? What are the impetuses that drive megaprojects? What are the performance factors that are leading to megaproject failures? What lessons have we learned?  The presentation is intended to be interactive with the audience and, as we are addressing Lessons Learned, Risk and Disputes. Presenters will include a cross-section of owners, counsel, and consultants with extensive megaproject experience.