The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Megaproject management research awarded the most cited and downloaded of the year

20 May 2021

What are the ingredients of successful megaproject delivery? Research reveals the causes and solutions for poor megaproject performance.


UCL research on the ingredients of successful megaproject management received two awards from the prestigious Project Management Journal – The most cited paper and The most downloaded paper of the year.

The paper - What Are the Causes and Cures of Poor Megaproject Performance? A Systematic Literature Review and Research Agenda – investigates the reasons why megaprojects often run over budget, over schedule, and fail to deliver their intended outcomes. Based on their findings, the research team has developed a research agenda to advance the successful delivery of megaprojects.

To develop their comprehensive review of the research available to date, Dr Juliano Denicol, Professor Andrew Davies and Dr Ilias Krystallis reviewed more than 6000 academic summaries, and analysed 86 papers in full.

Why do megaprojects fail?

The paper - published in Project Management Journal - identifies a number of causes of poor megaproject performance and suggest how they can be avoided. It had an overwhelming response after its publication, receiving so far over 22,000 downloads and extensive media coverage around the world.

The study found that no isolated factor was responsible for failure in megaprojects, with a number of interrelated factors contributing equally to poor performance. The paper identifies six themes, which reveal 18 causes of poor performance and 54 solutions:

  • Decision-making behaviour
  • Strategy, governance and procurement
  • Risk and uncertainty
  • Leadership and capable teams
  • Stakeholder engagement and management
  • Supply chain integration and coordination

Dr Juliano Denicol, from The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction, said:

“I’m absolutely delighted that our review of performance in megaprojects received two awards from Project Management Journal (PMJ). PMJ is a very prestigious outlet with influential studies that are driving the Project Management research globally. We are on a very exciting journey, a record of 22.000 downloads in the first year and numerous invitations from governments and megaprojects around the world. This recognition will encourage and inspire future research on megaprojects with different industrial partners."

Project Management Journal is one of the leading outlets for project management research and publishes only a selection of papers each year, with a strong emphasis on quality and impact. 

This research was funded by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the leading professional membership organisation for people working in project, programme and portfolio management.

Read the full paper here