Risk, uncertainty and governance in megaprojects : a critical discussion of alternative explanations

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This article critically discusses different explanations for the performance problems exhibited by many megaprojects, and examines the proposed governance solutions. It proposes a three-fold typology of explanations and solutions by examining authors’ epistemological assumptions about decision-maker cognition and about decision-maker views on the nature of the future. It argues that despite important differences in their epistemological orientation, these explanations share an acceptance of the notion of actor farsightedness. It concludes that this encourages them to focus on governance in megaprojects, made forms of organization designed ex ante, and to ignore governing in megaprojects, spontaneous micro-processes of organizing emerging ex post. Identification of this gap adds support to calls by projects-as-practice researchers for a broadening of research to encompass the actuality of projects. A new line of enquiry within this broad projects-as-practice agenda is suggested.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-443
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number4
Early online date24 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Megaprojects, Governance, Risk, Uncertainty, Farsightedness, Projects-as-practice