Review of the key challenges in major infrastructure construction projects: how do project managers ‘skill-up’?

Saima Ahmad, Chivonne Algeo, Susan Foster, Amrik Sohal, Daniel Prajogo, Robert Moehler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Major infrastructure projects are the delivery vehicle for the development, expansion and extension or retirement/demolition of Governmental investment that is intent in place making. Whilst a successful engine for change, major projects have been under scrutiny for their poor success record. By their very nature, major projects pose unique challenges due to the multitude of stakeholder perspectives and respective communication dynamics, accelerated delivery intents, skills-shortages, in addition to a complex array of activities, changing political climates and demographic shifts described as “wicked-mess”.
More recently behavioural aspects have become the focus of attention and have the potential to complement existing skills and competencies for professional functions that have succumbed to traditional project delivery approaches. In addition, emerging challenges that require a new set of skills and competencies are also at the forefront of cannibalising a conventional understanding of what managing major projects entails and how to enable successful project delivery.
From the literature review, we have been able to identify current key challenges and emerging challenges faced in the delivery of major projects. Our literature suggests that emerging challenges relate to technological, sustainability and acceleration of delivery in this increasingly complex context of project delivery. We propose a model for further examination to identify to what extent existing skills and competencies have been adopted, or replaced through newly acquired skills; and whether emerging challenges can be adequately
addressed, and whether current challenges require new skills and competencies due to the evolving nature of these challenges. The model also examines the behavioural factors that impact on the acquisition and development of new skills and competencies.
This paper contributes to the growing literature on examining the development and effectiveness of project managers’ skills and competencies in managing major infrastructure projects in the construction industry. The literature review presented in this paper should inform researchers in developing empirical studies relating to this important topic area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of EURAM 19
Subtitle of host publicationExploring the Future of Management
EditorsNelson António, Dorota Dobija, Rémi Jardat, Luisa Jaffé
Place of PublicationLisbon Portugal
PublisherEuropean Academy of Management (EURAM)
Number of pages40
ISBN (Print)9782960219517
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventAnnual Conference of the European Academy of Management 2019 - Lisbon University Institute, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 26 Jun 201928 Jun 2019
Conference number: 19th


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the European Academy of Management 2019
Abbreviated titleEURAM 2019


  • Infrastructure Delivery
  • Capabilities
  • Large or Major Projects
  • Project Management

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