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A new governance approach for multi-firm projects: Lessons from Olkiluoto 3 and Flamanville 3 nuclear power plant projects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-660
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


We analyze governance in two contemporary nuclear power plant projects: Olkiluoto 3 (Finland) and Flamanville 3 (France). We suggest that in the governance of large multi-firm projects, any of the prevalent governance approaches that rely on market, hierarchy, or hybrid forms, is not adequate as such. This paper opens up avenues towards a novel theory of governance in large projects by adopting a project network view with multiple networked firms within a single project, and by simultaneously going beyond organizational forms that cut across the traditional firm-market dichotomy. Our analysis suggests four changes in the prevailing perspective towards the governance of large projects. First, there should be a shift from viewing multi-firm projects as hierarchical contract organizations to viewing them as supply networks characterized by a complex and networked organizational structure. Second, there should be a shift in the emphasis of the predominant modes of governance, market and hierarchy towards novel governance approaches that emphasize network-level mechanisms such as self-regulation within the project. Third, there should be a shift from viewing projects as temporary endeavors to viewing projects as short-term events or episodes embedded in the long-term sphere of shared history and expected future activities among the involved actors. Fourth, there should be a shift from the prevailing narrow view of a hierarchical project management system towards an open system view of managing in complex and challenging institutional environments.


  • Flamanville 3, Governance, Large project, Multi-firm project, Nuclear power plant project, Olkiluoto 3, Project network