The influence of local community stakeholders in megaprojects: Rethinking their inclusiveness to improve project performance

Article Highlight:

This paper seeks to identify connections and major assumptions on the influence of stakeholders in major public infrastructure and construction (PIC) projects at the local community level, through looking at the literature on a number of different research projects. The authors particularly look at how the interests of the local community affected by major PIC projects often differ from those of the project.

Keywords

  • Megaproject
  • Local community
  • Benefits realisation
  • Body of knowledge

Download now

What does the paper cover?

Infrastructure spending is mainly driven by large-scale projects (megaprojects), as more and larger PIC projects are proposed and introduced to deliver goods and services. Construction megaprojects attract attention because they have high impacts on people, budgets and urban spaces. They can be seen as producing local impact but not local benefits, have improved little in recent years and are often blighted by misrepresentation and flawed decision making.

Research has generally overlooked the human social needs around PIC project developments, which are essential for ethical and sustainable development over time. Project managers need to be attuned to the cultural, organisational and social environments surrounding projects. A better and more inclusive approach to stakeholder management could improve the performance of these projects. It could reduce planning misjudgement and increase transparency and accountability in decision-making processes.

Methodology

The authors looked at 91 papers published between 1997 and 2015 in a broad range of English language peer reviewed journals. They developed an organising framework of the papers, with three areas to investigate: megaprojects; stakeholder analysis; and local community.

Among the 91 selected papers, the markets investigated were predominantly in Europe (22 per cent), America (13 per cent) and Asia (11 per cent), though another 16 per cent looked at multinational major PIC projects.

Research findings

Local opposition is a common threat for megaprojects whereby external groups try to influence the implementation of projects; often referred to as ‘not in my backyard’ (NIMBY). But rather than dismissing NIMBYism as blanket opposition to any kind of megaprojects, it can be argued that it should be recognised as an expression of people’s needs and fears. There is therefore a need for project managers to better understand and analyse the concerns, needs and moral issues of local people, and to do so throughout a project’s entire duration.

Practitioners and academics have generally focused on how megaprojects relate to national government and large organisations. Local community stakeholders are usually excluded from a project’s communication plan, with negative implications for the success of projects. Very little research has so far examined the social implications of megaprojects at the local community level.

Conclusions

  • There is limited knowledge about the broader involvement of local community stakeholders in PIC projects, which is perhaps due to the methods used to engage with them.
  • Stakeholder management in PIC projects usually focus on those stakeholders who control project resources, such as suppliers, sponsors and customers.
  • Seeking the opinions of the local community in the early stages of a project and monitoring its impact at the local level can help secure the project’s success.

Significance of the research

The conclusions of this paper provide academics and practitioners with suggestions for further research and practical implications for an approach to stakeholder management that is more inclusive than is usually the case today.

Future research could, for example, look into the social effects of megaprojects on the local community during different phases of a project.

Comments from author:

This paper has been further developed into a more recent article: Project manager’s perception of the local communities’ stakeholder in megaprojects: an empirical investigation in the UK, published in the International Journal of Project Management, Vol number 36.3. F. Di Maddaloni and K. Davis (2018) p. 542–565, available here.

Dr Francesco Di Maddaloni and Dr Kate Davis

Other research summaries

Occupational stress and job demand, control and support factors among construction project consultants

Article highlight:

This article investigates the relationship between job demands, job control, workplace support factors and occupational stress among South African construction project consultants.

Click here

The project benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Article highlight:

This article provides an outlook on the potential use and advantages of BIM in the construction sector for project managers. It has been taken from the International Journal of Project Management.

Click here

Does Agile work? - A quantitative analysis of agile project success

Article highlight:

This article looks at the benefits, or not, of applying an agile (i.e. flexible) method of project management, as opposed to more traditional methods.

Click here

Differences in decision-making criteria towards the return on marketing investment: A project business perspective

Article highlight:

This article encourages the use of return on marketing-specific investment (ROMI), paired with client lifetime value (CLV) and programme data sets, as a tool to facilitate dialogue between finance and marketing departments.

Click here

Institutional development, divergence and change in the discipline of project management

Article highlight:

This article looks at the challenges of developing project management as an academic discipline.

Click here

Explicating the dynamics of project capabilities

Article highlight:

This article looks at the spread of knowledge about benefits management and its adoption by organisations; the global development of benefits management; and translation processes at the organisation level.

The article’s authors undertook literature reviews and drew on their own extensive practical experience.

They used translation theory to analyse the development of benefits management and to draw conclusions about its current use.

Click here

Benefits management: Lost or found in translation

Article highlight:

This article looks at the spread of knowledge about benefits management and its adoption by organisations; the global development of benefits management; and translation processes at the organisation level.

The article’s authors undertook literature reviews and drew on their own extensive practical experience.

They used translation theory to analyse the development of benefits management and to draw conclusions about its current use.

Click here

Understanding the professional project manager

Article Highlight:

This paper explores and examines the duality of ‘local’ knowledge (company; sector) and ‘cosmopolitan’ knowledge (specialist skills, often transferable) that project managers have and rely on.

Find out more

Corruption in public projects and mega projects

Article Highlight:

This article explores the impact of corruption in large, unique projects such as public projects and megaprojects, as well as the conditions and features that favour such corruption.

Find out more

Project portfolio management in practice and in context

Article Highlight:

This research advocates new approaches and perspectives on project portfolio management to deepen understanding of its application in the day-to-day business environment.

Click here

Managing change in the delivery of complex projects: Configuration management, asset information and ‘big data’

Article Highlight:

This article provides insight into how change is managed in three organisations delivering complex projects – Airbus, CERN and Crossrail – and how those methods are evolving in the era of ‘big data’.

It has been taken from the International Journal of Project Management.

Click here

Three domains of project organising

Article Highlight:

This article challenges the belief that project organising is temporary. It argues that most project organising is done by (relatively) permanent forms of organisation. It also argues that the belief of its temporary nature has limited the development of research in this field.

Click here

The unsettling of ‘settled science’: The past and future of the management of projects

Article Highlight:

Professor Peter Morris’ management of projects (MoP) perspective unsettles the norm of project management theory and practice because he criticises standard guidance as being too execution-focused.

Click here

Project studies: What it is, where it is going?

Article Highlight:

This paper proposes a new framework for project research, the project studies framework, containing three levels of analysis and three types of research.

Click here

Projectification in western economies: a comparative study of Germany, Norway and Iceland

Article Highlight:

This paper tests and confirms a common assumption that projectification is increasing in companies, economic sectors and whole economies in the western world. The research presented contributes to making the term ‘projectification’ a fact based on sound empirical evidence.

Click here

What practitioners consider to be the skills and behaviours of an effective people project manager

Article highlight:

Project managers need to show open and honest concern for and genuine interests in the people they work with, understanding their feelings and emotions. This understanding will help them to predict future behaviours of their team members so they can plan to avoid, for example, people conflicts.

Showing respect for others and what they stand for is a behaviour that carries a lot of weight in effective people management – in any culture. People value being respected for what they are and stand for. It makes them feel good about themselves but also about the person showing the respect.

Click here

Join APM

Sign up to the APM Newsletter.