Learning to Manage Mega Projects: The case of BAA and Heathrow Terminal 5

Tim Brady, Andrew Davies, David Gann, Howard Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines how BAA implemented a strategic programme of capability building to improve the management of projects at Heathrow airport, ranging from routine capital projects to a one-off mega project – Terminal 5 (T5). It concentrates on the learning gained from previous projects, individuals and organisations that contributed to the innovative approach used to manage T5 - Europe’s largest and most complex project. The project is an example of a ‘megaproject’ (Flyvbjerg et al, 2003) because of its scale, complexity and high cost and its potential to transform the project management practices of the UK construction industry. The paper builds on and extends the scope of previous research based on studies of capital goods suppliers, which showed how firms could build new project capabilities over time as they learn from their previous project experiences (Davies and Brady, 2000; Brady and Davies, 2004). Specifically, it extends the earlier PCB model beyond the single supplier firm and its repeated execution of similar projects to include the actions of the major client and its interaction with the network of firms that come together to deliver repetitive capital projects and unique mega projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalProject Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Heathrow Terminal 5 (T5)
  • Megaprojects
  • Project management
  • Complex Product Systems (CoPs)


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