The overarching research question posed by the OMEGA 2 Study was: what constitutes a successful MTP in light of the aims of such projects and the anticipated sustainable development challenges presented by the 21st Century?
This investigation went well beyond the conventional project management concerns of completing such projects ‘on time’, ‘on budget’ and ‘within prescribed specifications’ (often referred to as ‘Iron Triangle’ considerations of project management) important though these remain. The research was based on an international study of 30 selected MTPs costing in excess of US 1 billion (at 1999 rates) and completed post-1990 in Europe, USA, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The research was undertaken in partnership with research teams in 9 universities (numbering approximately 35 researchers in total) from:
The University of Melbourne, Australia;
Ecole des Ponts Paris, France;
The Free University of Berlin, Germany;
The University of Thessaly, Greece;
Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan;
The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR;
The University of Amsterdam, Netherlands;
Lund University, Sweden;
New York University, USA.
Complementing the overarching research question were two further key questions and three hypotheses which define the scope of the Study, as follows:
How well has risk, uncertainty and complexity been treated in the planning, appraisal and delivery of MTPs?
How important is context in making judgements regarding ‘success’ and the treatment of risk, uncertainty and complexity?
Traditional criteria relating to cost overruns, completion dates, generation of travel time savings for project users and rates of returns to investors are inadequate measures of ‘success’ in the 21st century, as sustainable development concerns become increasingly critical both globally and locally.
The new emerging international and local agenda related to visions of sustainable development is multidimensional and goes beyond notions of environmental sustainability, as critical as this may be – it also concerns inter-related concepts of economic sustainability, social sustainability and institutional sustainability.
The level of competence in MTP decision-making in today’s fast-changing world is best assessed by the adequacy of the treatment of risk, uncertainty and complexity, plus sensitivity to context(s) – all of which constitute important demands on strategic planning and resilience.
In response to the above overarching research questions and hypotheses, the OMEGA 2 Study yielded a number of significant contributions to the field of MTP development which move significantly beyond the traditional concerns associated with project performance. These contributions take the form of lessons and suggested stakeholder actions, which help better frame and define arenas of MTP activity. The UCL OMEGA Team consider that these lessons and actions should be placed at the heart of future decision-making of MTPs if projects are to meet the growing and changing 21st Century aspirations for achieving future sustainable economic, social, environmental and institutional development. The Final Report of this research programme was submitted to VREF in six volumes on 1 October 2011. An Executive Summary was published in December 2012.
The OMEGA Centre International Partnership Network was founded in 2006 at the advent of the OMEGA 2 Project which sought to present generic lessons in decision-making in the planning, appraisal and delivery from a study of 30 MTP case studies in 10 countries in the Developed World. The Partnership Network comprised of nine very highly regarded academic institutions throughout the Developed World plus a Knowledge Management consultancy firm. Each University partner was led by a Principal Investigator (PI) in the form of a senior academic, supported by Research Assistants (many of the latter doubling-up as PhD students). All Partners offered important links to other Universities and research institutions plus access to local public and private sector project stakeholders in their respective countries and beyond.