Storylines, Leadership and Risk, Some Findings from Australian Case Studies of Urban Transport Megaprojects

Sophie Sturup*, Nicholas Low

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article is about how storylines are interwoven with mega transport project success. It examines the animating stories that inspire support for a project, the leadership that carries forward and expresses these stories and in turn becomes defined by them, and one particular impact this has on the management of risk. In developing this article we have used data collected on three Australian mega urban transport projects (MUTPs) for OMEGA Project 2, an international project on MUTPs. Framing the discussion also are some wider questions of political ethics which the expenditure of large amounts of public funds entails. In this article we first discuss our interpretive theoretical framework. We adduce evidence on the three elements (storylines, leadership and risk) before reaching our conclusion that whether or not a project is subsequently judged a ‘success’ depends on the combination of a persuasive storyline, strong leadership and the effective management of risk. Finally, we turn to the wider normative ambitions of the OMEGA project and question whether these can be achieved in an Australian context in which infrastructure planning is so highly politicised.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-505
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Policy and Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


  • Hajer
  • Heidegger
  • Storylines
  • leadership
  • mega urban transport projects
  • risk management


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