In his inaugural speech on Wednesday September 26th, he explains why the costs of large-scale projects, such as High Speed Rail projects, new motorways, and the Channel Tunnel, systematically turn out to be higher than was forecast. In the coming years the Danish professor will focus on cost overruns in major Dutch projects.
Flyvbjerg is an international researcher focusing on cost overruns in mega projects, such as the TGV and the ‘Big Dig’ in Boston. He has found a similar pattern in more than twenty countries: the costs of these projects very often turn out to be higher than was planned, on average more than 30 percent higher. In the Netherlands the HSL-South is a prime example. It has a cost overrun of 45 percent. Flyvbjerg was questioned as an expert by the temporary committee infrastructure projects (Tijdelijke Commissie Infrastructuurprojecten (2004)) which conducted research into the HSL-South and other projects.
Explanations for the systematic cost overruns, are according to Flyvbjerg ungrounded optimism among planners but also strategic motives. The lower the costs presented, the higher the chances of the project actually taking place: ‘lying pays off’. This is called ‘inverted Darwinism’ by the professor, or ‘survival of the unfittest’, because the projects that look best on paper have the largest cost overruns and demand shortfalls.
According to Flyvbjerg, one of the (partial) remedies against cost overruns is reference class forecasting. This is a method with which the costs of a project are estimated by comparing it to similar projects in the past. Flyvbjerg has applied this method to the ‘Zuiderzeelijn’ project. This resulted in a cost estimate that was 40 percent higher than previous estimates. Because of this the project is now being re-evaluated.
In the coming years Flyvbjerg, who is a part-time professor at the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management of Delft University of Technology, will research mega projects in the Netherlands. ‘To my surprise, there is little systematic knowledge about this subject. We do not know if the general conclusions found in other countries apply to the Netherlands. That’s a pity, because the Netherlands are especially interesting in this respect because of the high density of infrastructures.’
Flyvbjerg detects a change in attitude towards mega projects. ‘The realisation that things have to change is sinking in.’ Flyvbjerg receives full support of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management which finances the chair. In about two to three years, he hopes to present results on Dutch mega projects.
Maarten van der Sanden | alfa
Mathematical confirmation: Rewiring financial networks reduces systemic risk
22.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
20.09.2017 | Life Sciences
20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy