This study discusses the sustainability of highly-fragile, consensus-oriented developments which rely on voluntary contributions of resources. The research is grounded on a dataset of interorganizational controversies that arose during the planning of four mega infrastructure projects in the UK. It uses Design Structure Matrices to qualify the decomposability of the design structures and of the structures that govern high-level decisions to set performance expectations. The analysis shows that fixed deadlines, tight budgets and equity concerns constrain efforts to decentralise governance and seek local consensuses. Time constraints also bring to the fore mutual-gains bargaining and compromise-seeking despite genuine efforts to engage in deliberative decision-making and effective collaboration. Hence, I argue, sustaining these pluralistic enterprises is per se a measure of positive performance. The study suggests four mechanisms that allow carrying the parties along as the development inches forward: loosening local targets, global buffers, flexible designs in use; and an umpireÃ¢Â€Â”an actor accountable to all parties and empowered to settle disputes.
|Journal||University of Manchester, Working Paper|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2014|
- collective action, polycentric governance, design, megaprojects, infrastructure, planning