2007 volume 34(4) pages 578 – 597
doi:10.1068/b32111

Cite as:
Flyvbjerg B, 2007, "Policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects: problems, causes, cures" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 34(4) 578 – 597

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Policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects: problems, causes, cures

Bent Flyvbjerg

Received 20 June 2005; in revised form 19 December 2005; published online 9 March 2007

Abstract. This paper focuses on problems and their causes and cures in policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects. First, it identifies as the main problem in major infrastructure developments pervasive misinformation about the costs, benefits, and risks involved. A consequence of misinformation is cost overruns, benefit shortfalls, and waste. Second, it explores the causes of misinformation and finds that political-economic explanations best account for the available evidence: planners and promoters deliberately misrepresent costs, benefits, and risks in order to increase the likelihood that it is their projects, and not those of their competition, that gain approval and funding. This results in the ‘survival of the unfittest’, in which often it is not the best projects that are built, but the most misrepresented ones. Finally, it presents measures for reforming policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects with a focus on better planning methods and changed governance structures, the latter being more important.

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