Researchers at Stanford University have inaugurated a multi-disciplinary institute to analyze the dynamics of planning and implementing collaborative global projects.

The center, named the Collaboratory for Research on Global Projects (CRGP), brings together leading faculty and staff from Stanford’s schools of engineering, law, sociology and economics, with the private sector. Its founder and director is Ray Levitt, who also founded Stanford’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering."

CRGP is to address the ‘black box’ of institutional issues," says Executive Director Julie Kim. "We need new research to better understand those impacts."

CRGP has been organizing for a year. It began by surveying existing research and data to start developing a foundation of best practices for global project collaboration. It will study past and current infrastructure development projects to help frame understanding of how legal, political, cultural and financial environments impact success or failure. The goal is to develop data and empirically analyze how those factors interact through the entire life cycle of projects, particularly with allocation of risk and return to private sector investors.

The center’s planning for new research began with an industry roundtable in January, where the boom and bust of infrastructure projects in developing countries during the 1990s was discussed.

The "spectacular ability of those projects to attract investors...followed by a spectacular collapse and general retreat of investors from emerging markets," gets to the heart of the need for rigorous study, said Barry Metzger, a senior partner with the law firm Coudert Brothers LLP, New York.