Assessing Cultural Influences in Megaproject Practices

35 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2014

See all articles by Louis-Francois Pau

Louis-Francois Pau

Copenhagen Business School (CBS); Rotterdam School of Management; L.M. Ericsson; GIBS

Anders Langeland

University of Stavanger - Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning

Ove Njå

University of Stavanger - Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning

Date Written: May 31, 2014

Abstract

Departing from traditional project management, this article focuses on cultural and localized differences and influences on a specific project activity, and furthermore on the specific influences on large important critical projects (also called “megaprojects”). It analyzes relevant methodologies, theories and results from other disciplines such as micro-behaviors influenced by local cultures, socio-cultural theories, cultural synergy processes and hybrid institutions, physioeconomics as well as different practices in contracting. It is shown that the very definitions of the concept of “megaproject” are diverse in the world, and details are given. A scaled gap analysis tool is proposed, rooted in the above theories and results, aiming at identifying cultural differences between megaprojects from a set of qualitative measures. To further allow for causal analysis, a set of cultural impact measures is proposed, and the same sample of international megaprojects is assessed correspondingly. The tool has allowed to analyze a sample of 16 documented international megaprojects on 5 continents. The taxonomy of the cultural attributes and causal impacts allows to group the megaprojects by clusters of similar culturally driven management styles, irrespective of implementation countries. Taking thereafter the viewpoint of characterizing a given regional culture, it is shown that Scandinavian project management practices evidence a specific combination of cultural influence measures relying on hybrid governance and communications, unique work culture and tools, as well as an approach to adaptation. The paper finally discusses ethical characteristics of megaprojects, to conjecture that the alternatives are far fewer and more globalized. The conclusion shows that, despite the fact that to apprehend cultural factors in general is a very complex endeavor; the limited set of cultural influence measures identified here allows to characterize cultural impact on megaprojects. Megaprojects can be clustered or contrasted by cultural influences, by management styles, thus serving concrete needs in megaproject management.

Keywords: Megaprojects, Project management, Cultural aspects, Gap analysis, Cultural influence, International project management, Physioeconomics, Scandinavian project management, Micro-behaviors, Civil engineering, Energy, Transportation, Urban planning, High tech sector

JEL Classification: M14, O31, P50, Z1, P45, N60, M11

Suggested Citation

Pau, Louis-Francois and Langeland, Anders and Njå, Ove, Assessing Cultural Influences in Megaproject Practices (May 31, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2444229 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2444229

Louis-Francois Pau (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Rotterdam School of Management ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

L.M. Ericsson ( email )

Kista
Sweden

GIBS ( email )

Lynnwood Road
Pretoria 5100, 0002
South Africa

Anders Langeland

University of Stavanger - Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning ( email )

Stavanger
Norway

Ove Njå

University of Stavanger - Department of Industrial Economics, Risk Management and Planning ( email )

Stavanger
Norway

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