The Bartlett School of Planning


Andrew Purves

Research subject

Mega-transport projects and the “rules of the game”:  The role of contractual risk management in the planning and appraisal process in Latin America.

Primary supervisor: Professor Harry Dimitriou
Secondary supervisor: Dr John Ward
Starting date: November 2016
Projected completion date: December 2021

Mega-transport projects (MTPs) should be planned and appraised considering project management variables as success measures, but also accepting complexity and non-linearity, addressing the power of context and the influence of the participating stakeholders, understanding there are other success criteria used in the decision-making process. This is crucial to plan and appraise “successful” projects.

However, in Latin America, the challenge is that a “closed systems” approach to decision-making is formally requested by central governments at the planning and appraisal stages of MTPs, considering project and economic efficiency as measures of success. When dealing with the selection (among options) of the project and when deciding objectives and goals to be adopted, an “open systems” approach to decision-making is more consistent with the nature of MTPs.

In this context, it is reasonable to state that there may be different institutional elements (cultural-cognitive, normative and regulative) that could be promoting a ‘closed systems’ approach to decision-making when planning and appraising megaprojects in Latin America. This research is concentrated on analysing a specific part of the regulative elements, and uses a New Institutional Economics approach to thoroughly analyse this topic.

This research examines the relationship between the planning, appraisal and procurement/delivery stages of MTP decision-making. It pays special attention to the contribution of the formal institutional environment surrounding such decision-making when contracting and executing such megaprojects, in the pre-selection of a closed system approach to decision-making at the planning and appraisal stages. Using a mixed methods research design, focused on a multiple case study, this thesis: identifies the contribution of the different risk factors to the general risk of obtaining the expected results; analyses how these risk factors are related to contractual hazards; and explores if governmental decision-makers perceive an ‘open-systems’ approach to decision-making at the planning and appraisal stages would impact on contractual hazards.



Juan Alberti has a BA in Economics from Universidad ORT Uruguay and holds a Master's Degree in Infrastructure Planning and Management from the University of Washington. In recent years he has worked as an external consultant for international organizations (Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank and United Nations Development Programme) in research regarding infrastructure planning, appraisal and delivery, in more than 12 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Previously, he was Coordinator of the Joint Q Program of the United Nations System in Uruguay, Operations Analyst of the Inter-American Development Bank, and Chief of Attention and Advice of the Private Sector Support Unit in the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Uruguay.


Author - 2019 - Planning and Appraisal Recommendations for Megaproject Success - IDB Monograph; 661 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/en/planning-and-appraisal-recommendations-megaproject-success


Co-Author - 2018 - Metro de Santo Domingo: El súper Project Champion; ¿Héroe o villano? - IDB Monograph; 634 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/es/metro-de-santo-domingo-el-super-project-champion-heroe-o-villano


Co-Author - 2018 - Institucionalidad y eficiencia del transporte vial en América Latina y el Caribe: ¿Existe una relación entre institucionalidad y eficiencia sectorial? - IDB Monograph; 632 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/es/institucionalidad-y-eficiencia-del-transporte-vial-en-america-latina-y-el-caribe-existe-una


Co-Author - 2018 - Carretera interoceánica IIRSA sur de Perú: Un megaproyecto con preinversión express - IDB Monograph; 623 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/es/carretera-interoceanica-iirsa-sur-de-peru-un-megaproyecto-con-preinversion-express


Co-Author - 2017 – Financiamiento Privado de la Infraestructura de América Latina y el Caribe – Chile, Perú, y Uruguay como Casos de Estudio - IDB Monograph; 531 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/es/financiamiento-privado-de-la-infraestructura-en-america-latina-y-el-caribe-chile-peru-y-uruguay


Co-Author - 2016 - Institucionalidad y Eficiencia del Transporte Vial en América Latina y el Caribe - Un Marco Teórico para su Análisis - IDB Monograph; 459 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/es/publicacion/15651/institucionalidad-y-eficiencia-del-transporte-vial-en-america-latina-y-el-caribe


Co-Author - 2016 - Institucionalidad y Eficiencia del Transporte Vial en América Latina y el Caribe - Un análisis de Casos Múltiples para la Determinación de Variables Organizacionales Relevantes - IDB Monograph; 429 – Available at:  https://publications.iadb.org/es/publicacion/15652/institucionalidad-y-eficiencia-del-transporte-vial-en-america-latina-y-el-caribe


Author - 2015 - Pre-Investment in Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean - IDB Monograph; 286 – Available at: https://publications.iadb.org/en/publication/12180/pre-investment-infrastructure-latin-america-and-caribbean-case-studies-chile


Author - 2015 - Interdependencias entre Infraestructuras - Recomendaciones para su investigación en Uruguay - Fundación Astur / Red Sur – Uruguay +25 - Documento de Trabajo N°22 – Available at: http://www.redsudamericana.org/productividad-innovacion/interdependencias-entre-infraestructuras-recomendaciones-para-su


Contributor - 2010 - Uruguay Trade and Logistics: An Opportunity - Document of the World Bank - Report No. 52303-UY – Available at: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/411251468317096531/Uruguay-Trade-and-logistics-an-opportunity-main-report

Conference Presentations

“Financiamiento privado de la Infraestructura Económica en Uruguay” – Conference: Financiamiento de la Inversión Privada en Infraestructura en América Latina y el Caribe – Inter-American Development Bank - February 2017 – Washington DC, United States of America.


“Retos en la etapa de pre-inversión en América Latina” – Conference: Inversión Pública para el crecimiento económico y la equidad” – Inter-American Development Bank - January 2017, Lima, Peru.


“El Gran Desafío de la Preinversión” – Conference: XIII Congreso Nacional de la Infraestrucutra – Cámara Colombiana de la Infraestructura – November 2016, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.


“Diagnóstico, Análisis de Alternativas y Propuestas” – Conference: Diagnóstico, análisis de alternativas y propuestas para la mejora de la ejecución de obras públicas en El Salvador Grupo Gestor de la Obra Pública – Inter-American Development Bank – August 2016, San Salvador, El Salvador


“Impacto de la Preinversión en el Sector Infraestructura” – Conference: Retos en la Priorización de Proyectos y la Gestión de la Pre-Inversión en Infraestructura – Inter-American Development Bank – June 2016, Asunción, Paraguay.


“Institutions and Efficiency of the Road Sector in LAC” – Conference: ITEA Annual Conference and School on Transportation Economics – June 2016, Santiago de Chile, Chile.


“En la búsqueda de Buenos proyectos: el rol de la información y preinversión” – Conference – Infrastructure and Energy Sector Week – Inter-American Development Bank – May 2016, Leesburg, Virginia, United States of America.


“Pre-Inversión en Infraestructura” – Conference: Retos en la priorización de proyectos y la gestión de la pre-inversión en infraestructura – Inter-American Development Bank – July 2015, Bogotá, Colombia