Megaprojects and Risk

Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition is a 2003 book by Bent Flyvbjerg, Nils Bruzelius, and Werner Rothengatter, published by Cambridge University Press. According to chief economist and director of transportation policy at Infrastructure Management Group, Inc., Porter K. Wheeler, "this book makes an important contribution to understanding the infrastructure development process worldwide, with focus on megaprojects."[1]

Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition
AuthorBent Flyvbjerg
Nils Bruzelius
Werner Rothengatter
CountryUnited States
SubjectEconomics, infrastructure
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date
Media typePrint, e-book


"Megaprojects" is the term applied to multibillion-dollar infrastructure developments such as massive dams and bridges, and to elaborate railways and highways. The "megaprojects paradox" is that more of these projects are being implemented, but such projects typically perform very poorly, often with substantial cost overruns and market shortfalls.[2][3]

Chapters two to four examine the Channel Tunnel, which opened in 1994 at a cost of £4.7 billion following cost-overruns of 80% which caused several companies to nearly go bankrupt. Denver International Airport, which cost $5 billion, opened in 1995 following a 200% cost overrun, and passenger traffic in 1995 was only half that expected. There were also problems with Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport, opened in 1998, which had low revenues and negatively affected Hong Kong's economy.[4]

According to authors, the reason for these poor performances is that many of the participants in the process have incentives to underestimate costs, overestimate revenues, undervalue environmental impact, and overvalue economic development effects.[5] The central problems are lack of accountability and inappropriate risk sharing which can be improved by reforming the institutional arrangements of decision making and to institute accountability at the project development and evaluation stages.[1]

See also


  1. Wheeler, Porter K. (2004). "Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition" (PDF). Journal of the Transportation Research Forum. 43 (1): 145–148.
  2. Clark, Gordon L. (March 2005). "Book Review: Megaprojects and Risk". Planning Theory. 4 (1): 115–119. doi:10.1177/147309520500400107. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  3. Brown, Peter H. (November 2005). "Book Review: Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition" (PDF). Economic Development Quarterly. 19 (4): 387–388. doi:10.1177/0891242405279767. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  4. Flyvbjerg, B. Buzelius, N. Rothengatter, W. (2003). Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-00946-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Zahariadis, Nikolaos (September 2004). "Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambition". Perspectives on Politics. 2 (3): 609–610. doi:10.1017/S1537592704620378. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
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