Project Management Institute

Paradoxes of control

the (electronic) monitoring and reporting system of the Dutch High Speed Alliance (HSA)

One of the main issues in the Dutch Government's economic development strategy is the control of its transportation infrastructures, particularly its highly technologically advanced but highly troubled High Speed Alliance (HSA), a system that has encountered substantial budgetary, scheduling, and technical problems. This paper examines how the HSA system--designed to eliminate uncertainty and risk--has generated, from its monitoring and reporting functions, its own types of uncertainty and risk, which in turn affects the way the HSA's organization rationalizes and controls its organizational processes, particularly its process of sensemaking, which the authors say can only be understood in relation to three paradoxes: cost, control, and risk. In doing so, it overviews the HSA's history, noting the system's problems and the organization's adoption of the new public management (NPM) philosophy to influence the relations between its central organization and its local actors.
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