Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University
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Bent Flyvbjerg

Professor, Research Director, Dr. Techn., Dr. Scient., and Ph.D.

Notice: On April 1, 2009, Bent Flyvbjerg moved to University of Oxford. Flyvbjerg's Aalborg website is up to date until the time of his move. After this date, please see his site at Oxford:



What is a Megaproject?

Megaprojects (sometimes also spelled "mega projects") are very large investment projects. The US Federal Highway Administration defines megaprojects as major infrastructure projects that cost more than US$1 billion, or projects of a significant cost that attract a high level of public attention or political interest because of substantial direct and indirect impacts on the community, environment, and budgets. Some megaprojects, like Boston's Big Dig at $15 billion or the Channel tunnel between France and the UK at $10 billion, cost several times this minimum definition of a megaproject. Other projects that cost less than $1 billion are sometimes also called megaprojects; it depends on the context, because a, say, $500 million project in a medium-sized town may be considered "mega," whereas this would not necessarily be the case for a similar-sized project in a major world city.

"Mega" also implies the size of the task involved in developing, planning, and managing projects of this magnitude. The risks are substantial. Cost overruns of 50% are common, overruns of 100% not uncommon. Similarly, substantial benefit shortfalls trouble many megaprojects. Finally, regional development effects and environmental impacts often turn out very differently from what proponents promised. Cost overruns combined with benefit shortfalls spell trouble. But an interesting paradox exists for megaprojects: More and bigger megaprojects are being planned and built despite their poor performance record in terms of costs and benefits.

Bent Flyvbjerg's research on megaprojects identifies this "megaprojects paradox" and examines its causes and possible cures. His focus is on cost overruns in megaprojects, benefit shortfalls, regional and economic growth effects, environmental impacts and risks, forecasting, optimism bias, strategic misrepresentation, risk assessment and management, accountability, democracy, and new governance structures for megaprojects in city and regional development.

Back to Main Page on Megaprojects


Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University, Fibigerstraede 11 - 13, DK-9220 Aalborg East, Denmark, Phone: (+45) 96 35 80 80