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Top government hands-on megaproject management: the case of Istanbul’s grand airport

Fatih Eren (Department of City and Regional Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Konya Technical University, Konya, Turkey)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 29 November 2018

Issue publication date: 8 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore top government hands-on megaproject management model applied to Istanbul’s new airport megaproject. The study aims to find an answer to this research question: “How is the organizational design and management of a megaproject that has been alive in a confrontational socio-political environment and whose national strategic importance is high?”


Organizational theory and critical theory perspectives are used in this study. Istanbul’s grand airport is chosen as the case study. Interview, focus group and document analysis methods are used together. The research yields data from qualitative resources. Verbal and written materials are organized into three major themes and 27 key subjects for content analysis.


A top level of organizational management can be attained in the state in order for the mega projects with high national strategic importance to survive without problems and with high performance. The top government-level organizational structure implemented at Istanbul’s new airport has reduced complexity, risk and uncertainty; increased performance and product quality; and strenghtened inter-organizational compatibility and communication within the megaproject organization. However, this structuring also increased centralization, reduced transparency and direct public participation in the decision-making process.

Research limitations/implications

The megaproject is run in strict confidence and limited information is shared gradually in a controlled way with public by the megaproject organization. Therefore, a qualitative methodology is followed and the usage of quantitative data remained limited in the research.

Practical implications

The study presents an exemplary top government-level megaproject management model for countries experiencing strong socio-political conflicts and aiming to perform megaprojects with high national strategic importance.

Social implications

The organization of Istanbul’s new airport megaproject offers an exemplary, flexible and innovative organizational management model for countries that want to realize mega projects with high national strategic importance and experience strong socio-political conflicts. The questions of how to cope with challenges, how to build management capabilities and how to improve the cooperation and coordination within megaprojects have found some answers with this study. In addition, this study provides an insight into how to make more effective objections to wrong megaproject practices and the right strategies that the opposing organizations can follow.


This empirical research widens and deepens the theoretical foundations of top government hands-on megaproject management. The study, which includes a process analysis, allows to better understand the philosophy, nature, success, planning process, social organization and dynamics of megaprojects and to explain them through the values and strategies of organizations.



The author would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and insightful suggestions on an earlier version of the paper. Also, special gratitude is also extended to interviewees who participated in sharing information and their opinions about Istanbul’s grand airport.


Eren, F. (2019), "Top government hands-on megaproject management: the case of Istanbul’s grand airport", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 666-693.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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