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Sublime as the rapture

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Why are megaprojects like HS2 so attractive to decision makers? The answer may be found in the so-called “four sublimes” of megaproject management (wrote Bent Flyvbjerg).

[What You Should Know about Megaprojects and Why: An Overview, Bent Flyvbjerg, Project Management Journal, volume 45, number 2, April – May 2014]

[…] Karen Trapenberg Frick first introduced the term to the study of megaprojects, describing the technological sublime as the rapture engineers and technologists get from building large and innovative projects, like the tallest building or the longest bridge.

[…] Due to the large sums of money involved, principal-agent problems and rent-seeking behavior are common, as is optimism bias.

[…] The common practice of depending on the Hiding Hand or creative error in estimating costs and benefits results in an inverted Darwinism, that is, the “survival of the unfittest.” It is not the best projects that get implemented, but the projects that look best on paper. And the projects that look best on paper are the projects with the largest cost underestimates and benefit overestimates, shortfalls, and risks of nonviability. Thus the projects that have been made to look best on paper become the worst, or unfittest, projects in reality, in the sense that they are the very projects that will encounter the most problems during construction and operations in terms of the largest cost overruns, benefit shortfalls, and risks of nonviability. They have been designed like that, as disasters waiting to happen.

The rapture of the superlative

The rapture of the superlative

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Written by beleben

February 8, 2017 at 10:42 am

Posted in Planning, Politics

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