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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter illustrates the management of uncertainty, of stakeholders, and of contractors, and then draws on history—the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and Cold War-era space and defense projects such as Polaris and Apollo—to show that knowledge of how to overcome these issues has long existed and could be used effectively in some megaprojects today. For example, Manhattan Project manager General Groves realized that big unforeseeable uncertainties in designing atomic weapons required discrete project management skills including flexibility, but these techniques have since been pushed aside in a managerial push for control that became the phased-planning or “stage-gate” process philosophy. While some successes in the 1940s and 1950s may not be repeated today with the same managerial methods, because stakeholder complexity was lower at a time when huge projects served “national priorities,” it is argued that some mid-twentieth-century managerial techniques would help improve modern megaprojects.

Keywords: Manhattan project, uncertainty management, stakeholders, contract design, project history

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