Urban Megaprojects as Disorderly and Unruly Endeavors

Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría

Megaprojects have multiplied around the world as an urban response to the pressures of neoliberalism and globalization in favor of development, competitiveness and innovation. The protagonists of the megaprojects adopt a narrative of international competitiveness, framing a discourse dominated by the rhetoric of economic survival. The response has been urban transformations in which governments and private sector actors have struggled to position their cities and services within a global socio-political division of labor, production and consumption, and to coordinate their local networks with the requirements perceived or real aspects of an increasingly deregulated and neoliberal international economic system. It seems clear, then, that the phenomenon of megaprojects is intrinsically linked to the logic of growth, development, qualitative urban transformation, wealth creation, competitiveness and prosperity. One of the consequences of this overall framework is that megaprojects usually evolve from an orderly planning project to a disorderly an unruly endeavor. The complexities of construction, operation, management and governance of large projects entail a series of stochastic processes where risk and unpredictability become fundamental components of urban economic life.


Urban megaprojects; development; competitiveness; management; governance; sustainability; urban prosperity


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