Mega-projects are as old as antiquity, at least as old as the pyramids of Giza. Which begs the question, did the ancient Egyptians consider them a success, and if so under what criteria? From whose perspective: the rulers buried in them, or the slaves who built them? From today’s standpoint, the fact that more than thirty centuries later they are still boosting Egypt’s economy is surely an incredible achievement. But given they were designed to protect the sanctity of the deceased for eternity, the Kings and Queens who ordered and paid for the pyramids might consider them a failure.
Success comes in many forms and judging it is subjective. Motivations for mega-projects vary according to the political, economic and social context that gives birth to them, and this essay will argue their success should be judged accordingly. Specifically, success criteria should be framed according to the benefit they bring to the community over the long term (although in decades rather than centuries). To illustrate the point, I will focus analysis on one city: London, and one mega-project: the 2012 Olympic Games.
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