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Amadi, A I and Higham, A (2017) Latent geotechnical pathogens inducing cost overruns in highway projects. Journal of Financial Management of Property and Construction, 22(03), 269-85.
- Type: Journal Article
- Keywords: cost overrun; Niger Delta; geotechnical; highway projects
- URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/JFMPC-03-2017-0008
Purpose This paper aims to investigate the statistical validity of geotechnical risk factors in accounting for cost overruns in highway projects. The study hypothesises that “latent pathogens” because of mismanaged geotechnical risk, which lay dormant in organisational practices of highway agencies, trigger cost overruns. Design/methodology/approach To test this hypothesis, cost and geotechnical data gathered for 61 completed highway projects, executed in the Niger Delta, recording unusually high cost overruns, along with qualitative data from 16 interviews with the project commissioners, were comprehensively analysed via regression modelling, to statistically explain recorded cost variance. Findings The results provide empirical evidence supporting a cause–effect relationship between the extent of cost overrun and key geotechnical factors. It is suggested that positive changes made in the geotechnical practices of the highway agencies will produce an expected exponential decrease in the level of cost overruns recorded in highway projects. Research limitations/implications The study is limited to explaining the propagation of unusually high cost overruns in the geologic setting of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. As such there is a need to test the generalisability of the theory presented. Practical implications The emergent view of geotechnical practice calls for further research, necessary to align geotechnical best practice into highway project delivery in the Niger Delta region. Originality/value The study used a robust methodological approach to understanding the propagation of cost overruns in highway projects, based on a characterisation of geotechnical intricacies, which is unprecedented in cost overrun research.