Transforming Engineering Systems: Learnings from Organising Megaprojects

Joana Geraldi, Andrew Davies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Whether through the delivery of a sewage system or energy distribution system, megaprojects are designed to intervene in engineering systems in a purposeful and deliberate manner. Although they always transform the system, their impact is partly predictable and partly unknowable. While the uncertainty surrounding megaprojects is widely accepted in practice and literature, project achievements are still compared against planned goals, and megaprojects are declared to be over budget, over time, over and over again, Flyvbjerg poignantly insists. Why is it so hard to design, deliver and yield long-term benefits from megaprojects? Grounding our work in project studies literature, we discuss four challenges involved in managing megaprojects: 1) delivering purposeful interventions, 2) integrating complex work under high levels of uncertainty, 3) collaborating with friends and foes and 4) innovating and learning under high time and budget constraints. The chapter offers implications for practice and research at the intersection between engineering systems and megaprojects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Engineering Systems Design
EditorsAnja Maier, Josef Oehmen, Pieter E. Vermaas
Number of pages23
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9783030460549
ISBN (Electronic)9783030460549
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Complexity
  • Decision-making
  • Engineering systems
  • Innovation
  • Integration
  • Megaprojects
  • Project studies

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