Rethinking Infrastructure Projects for the New Normal
Call for papers for: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business
Submission deadline: 31 March 2021
Pandemic is not a new reality, but the COVID-19 crisis invites us to rethink infrastructure. Infrastructure has a major role to play in resilience, but also in economic recovery, related to environmental and social new conditions. In the context of damage imposed to the environment, and climate changes, resilience of infrastructure is starting to become a new normal.
Experience related to the COVID-19 crisis is reason for reflection. Profound questions about the governance, design, resilience and execution of infrastructure projects must be addressed by decision-makers and key players in the industry. It is important to seize this opportunity to think differently about infrastructure projects. For instance, with the pandemic, additional health protection measures are required on sites and the social dimensions must be taken into consideration more than usual, which means that project costs and turnaround times must be reviewed. This necessarily requires the integration of changes to ensure better governance and manage these projects’ social and environmental impacts. Infrastructures are public goods, essential services that foster access to health care, education, energy, and in some cases to drinking water, sanitation, and individual equality. They play a key role in solving problems related to sustainable development and the battle against climate change, which COVID-19 crisis started to unpack as well. How will our infrastructure projects be able to support us in this transition? Will we be able to reorganize to ensure that our infrastructures respond better to society’s well-being? A paradigm shift is needed to take account of the “right” resilience parameters and integrate them into project governance.
Launching into infrastructure projects as an economic response to the COVID-19 crisis is fraught with the danger of jumping too fast ‘as haste makes waste’ without a systemic view of the future of how people will live, travel and work and how creating a different demand on infrastructure.
For instance, questions such as what will the predictions about smart cities change the current ways of urban infrastructure development when people are able to work more from home, use shared transport, be able to order on-demand transport using apps and experience a reduction traffic due to autonomous vehicles ? How will the new normal affect our patterns of commuting and travelling, water and sanitation, education and public health ‘track and trace’ systems to understand patterns for prevention and control of infectious diseases? What kind of infrastructure will be fit for purpose in this ‘brave new world’? Very importantly, the pandemic has exposed the social inequalities including class, race and gender and the notion of ‘key workers’ has further emphasized some of the less comfortable truths underpinning our modern societies in the global North and particularly South. If anything, it looks like infrastructure projects to deliver social services are going to become more important than they were in the recent past and the role of governments to provide for those projects is set to become more central.
It is the aim of this Special Issue to unpack the various elements of the paradigm shift needed to achieve the infrastructure for the ‘new normal’ and corresponding resilience parameters needed from the different research perspectives. We would welcome conceptual, theoretical and conventional empirical contributions on infrastructure projects in any sector (existing or emerging) with areas of interest, but not limited to, as follows:
- Crisis management and rapid project delivery
- Decision-making and governance for resilience
- Innovative project delivery and business models
- Project and programme evaluation and benefits realization and management
- Environmental and social sustainability
- Ethical issues in the planning and delivery of projects
- Long range implications including climate change adaptation and mitigation
- Transformation projects as transitional mechanisms to the new policy regimes
- Smart cities, Autonomous Vehicles, Intelligent Transport
- Wicked problems in urban planning
- Rethinking health care infrastructures