1. Introduction: scope of the book
Hugo Priemus, Bent Flyvbjerg and
Bert van Wee

This book aims to enlarge understanding of the decision-making on megaprojects
and to suggest recommendations for a more effective, efficient and
democratic approach. This is not the first book published on this theme. But
this is certainly a unique book, presenting an up-to-date and differentiated
overview of the state of the art, based on experiences and visions of authors
from Europe and North America.
Traditionally, it has been the job of the government to develop, finance
and – often – to manage major investment projects, which we have bundled
together in this book under the blanket definition of ‘mega-project’. There
are many successful mega-projects, most of which have taken some time
to bear fruit – both directly and indirectly. However, there are also many
potential problems, which could turn mega-projects into what Peter Hall
labels ‘planning disasters’ (Hall, 1980). These problems include low transport
performances, adverse environmental effects (landscape erosion, noise
pollution, toxic emissions etc.), underestimated investment costs and disappointing