Applying institutional theories to managing megaprojects

Christopher Biesenthal, Stewart Clegg, Ashwin Mahalingam, Shankar Sankaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


This paper contributes to Rodney Turner's initiative to develop a theory of project management from practice. Organizational scholars studying strategy suggest that more attention needs to be paid to practices involved in organizing, as well as the institutional contexts in which these practices are embedded. Taking a cue from strategy-in-practice approaches, it is proposed that institutional theories can be used to address some questions that have not been answered adequately regarding megaprojects. Institutional theories also seem to be gaining the attention of scholars investigating large, global, infrastructure projects as reported in engineering, management and construction journals. Increasingly, it is evident that the problem areas attached to these projects stretch beyond technical issues: they must be considered as socio-technical endeavours embedded in complex institutional frames. The authors suggest that studying how to deal with institutional differences in the environment of megaprojects has both theoretical and practical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Institutional theory
  • Managing the socio-political context
  • Megaprojects
  • Project management
  • Project management research
  • Project organizing


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