DPhil student at the Saïd Business School.
What inspired you to focus on this area of research?
My research focuses on the management efforts required to host the Olympic Games. Having grown up in Montreal, host city for the 1976 Summer Olympics, I have always been interested in the lasting effects that the Games had on our city, both positive and negative. I am fascinated by how these colossal projects come to realisation.
What makes the Olympics a particularly interesting focus of research from a management studies perspective?
The Olympic Games are one of the most complex types of major projects currently executed in the world. They have many of the challenges of any multi-billion pound corporation, face intense public scrutiny, and must work with a vast number of stakeholders. However, the organisation has to be redeveloped every four years in a new city. Therefore, it provides us with an opportunity to compare operationally similar, but organisationally and geographically distinct projects.
What have been the most critical and problematic challenges to have faced host cities in the past?
Probably the most high profile challenges faced by host cities have included schedule delays and cost overruns. This attention is not surprising, given that a large portion of the funding for the Games typically comes from the public sector. Additionally, because host cities are always new to the Games, there is inevitably a deficit of knowledge in that city. Therefore, one of the most critical and problematic challenges is how to combine lessons learned from past Games’ with that particular city’s aspirations.
What impact are you hoping to make on the future management of the Games?
I hope that my research will provide insights for future host cities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about how to improve the balance between drawing on existing knowledge and allowing each city to establish a unique style in the delivery of the Games. I want to draw particular attention to recurring challenges; it is in these areas of ‘unknown knowns’, which organisers know are a problem but are unable to fix, that significant advances can be made in Games management.
Do you anticipate that other major organisations and event managers will be able to learn from your research conclusions?
While the Games are often considered unique, there are many themes in the challenges that they face that will resonate with other event, project, and company leaders. In the Games, we find a nexus of political challenges, scope and budget trade-offs, organisational decisions and individual successes that are equally applicable to many other organisations. In particular, I believe that the acknowledgement of how ‘unknown knowns’ can affect project planning will be of use to any organisation planning a major investment.
What do you hope to focus on once this research project is complete?
I hope to continue my work in the field of major projects, through some combination of research, policy and practice. In the short term, I look forward to experiencing the Games in London; for once, as a spectator rather than a researcher!