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Optimism and misrepresentation in early project development

Bent Flyvbjerg

In Terry Williams, Knut Samset, and Kjell Sunnevag, eds., Making Essential Choices with Scant Information: Front-End Decision Making in Major Projects, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 147-168

Pervasive misinformation about the costs, benefits and risks involved is a big problem in major project development. Consequences of misinformation are cost overruns, benefit shortfalls and waste. This chapter identifies optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation as main causes of misinformation. Bias and misrepresentation are problems throughout the project cycle, but the problems are greatest during early project development, because here measures to curb bias and misrepresentation are weakest. Measures for improving early project development are presented, emphasizing accountability and better methods.

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Bent Flyvbjerg