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The (under) performance of mega-projects: a meta-organizational perspective

Lundrigan, C. P., Gil, N. A. and Puranam, P. (2015) The (under) performance of mega-projects: a meta-organizational perspective. In: Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2015, 7-11 August 2015, Vancouver.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.5465/ambpp.2015.222

Abstract/Summary

This study links evolution in organizational structure to ambiguity in the definition of performance in the context of organizations formed to develop long-lived infrastructure: so-called ‘mega-projects’. Based on a longitudinal, inductive analysis of three mega-projects in London, we argue that a mega- project is a meta-organization with two symbiotically-related constituent structures. The core, led by a coalition, is a mutable collective that shares control over the goal of the project and corresponding high-level design choices. The periphery is a supply chain selected to design and build the infrastructure, but lacks the authority to change the high-level choices. As the mega-project structure evolves over time, we show that the founders and new comers renegotiate the high-level choices and slippages in performance targets ensue. The conflation of committals to different baselines, differing preferences for efficiency and effectiveness, and rivalry in high-level choices gives rise to competing performance narratives which cannot be reconciled. Thus, we argue, the disappointing and controversial (under) performance of mega-projects may be a result of how their organizational structure develops, rather than due to any agency or competence related failure per se.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
ID Code:80214

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