IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/arx/papers/1802.09999.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Planning Fallacy or Hiding Hand: Which Is the Better Explanation?

Author

Listed:
  • Bent Flyvbjerg

Abstract

This paper asks and answers the question of whether Kahneman's planning fallacy or Hirschman's Hiding Hand best explain performance in capital investment projects. I agree with my critics that the Hiding Hand exists, i.e., sometimes benefit overruns outweigh cost overruns in project planning and delivery. Specifically, I show this happens in one fifth of projects, based on the best and largest dataset that exists. But that was not the main question I set out to answer. My main question was whether the Hiding Hand is "typical," as claimed by Hirschman. I show this is not the case, with 80 percent of projects not displaying Hiding Hand behavior. Finally, I agree it would be important to better understand the circumstances where the Hiding Hand actually works. However, if you want to understand how projects "typically" work, as Hirschman said he did, then the theories of the planning fallacy, optimism bias, and strategic misrepresentation - according to which cost overruns and benefit shortfalls are the norm - will serve you significantly better than the principle of the Hiding Hand. The latter will lead you astray, because it is a special case instead of a typical one.

Suggested Citation

  • Bent Flyvbjerg, 2018. "Planning Fallacy or Hiding Hand: Which Is the Better Explanation?," Papers 1802.09999, arXiv.org.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1802.09999
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1802.09999
    File Function: Latest version
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Flyvbjerg, Bent, 2005. "Measuring inaccuracy in travel demand forecasting: methodological considerations regarding ramp up and sampling," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 522-530, July.
    2. Ansar, Atif & Flyvbjerg, Bent & Budzier, Alexander & Lunn, Daniel, 2014. "Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 43-56.
    3. Bent Flyvbjerg & Cass R. Sunstein, 2015. "The Principle of the Malevolent Hiding Hand; or, the Planning Fallacy Writ Large," Papers 1509.01526, arXiv.org.
    4. Flyvbjerg, Bent, 2016. "The Fallacy of Beneficial Ignorance: A Test of Hirschman’s Hiding Hand," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 176-189.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Flyvbjerg, Bent & Ansar, Atif & Budzier, Alexander & Buhl, Søren & Cantarelli, Chantal & Garbuio, Massimo & Glenting, Carsten & Holm, Mette Skamris & Lovallo, Dan & Molin, Eric & Rønnest, Arne & Stewa, 2019. "On de-bunking “Fake News” in the post-truth era: How to reduce statistical error in research," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 409-411.
    2. Love, Peter E.D. & Ika, Lavagnon A. & Ahiaga-Dagbui, Dominic D., 2019. "On de-bunking ‘fake news’ in a post truth era: Why does the Planning Fallacy explanation for cost overruns fall short?," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 397-408.

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1802.09999. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (arXiv administrators). General contact details of provider: http://arxiv.org/ .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.