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Heathrow Terminal 5 Project: Cultural Awareness Report (Assessment)

Project culture

The construction of Terminal 5 at Heathrow International Airport is one of the major projects that were undertaken by the UK government through the British Airport Authority [BAA] to decongest the Heathrow Airport. The project was relatively complex because of different majors and sub-projects that had to be established in the construction process. The building development was composed of 140 mini-developments and 16 chief developments. The terminal was expected to connect the already established terminals at Heathrow Airport (Davies, Gann & Douglas 2009). By constructing Terminal 5, the UK government intended to generate additional revenue by increasing operational efficiency while at the same time promoting the airport’s public image and status. The attainment of the above objectives depended on the effectiveness and efficiency with which the project met the set timeline, safety standards, and budget. In its pursuit to achieve the intended goal, the British Airport Authority appreciated the importance of integrating an effective project culture. Bredilett, Yatim, and Ruiz (2010) affirm that a project culture entails the values, attitudes, and practices that are adopted by an organization in the course of implementing different projects. Loosemore (2012) says that a project culture entails the enterprise-wide belief systems that are incorporated in the course of undertaking a particular project to attain the desired outcome.

The British Airport Authority adopted effective project cultural practices during delivering T5. Some of the core aspects that BAA integrated to develop a project-oriented culture include risk management, value and change management, cost management, project control, consultancy, and benchmarking (Rodrigues & Sbragia 2013). The BAA appreciated the fact that a risk cannot be ruled out in the course of implementing the project. The occurrence of a risk might adversely affect the attainment of the desired project outcome. However, an effective application of project risk management can assist the project owner and the project manager to limit such negative outcomes (Forsberg, Mooz & Scotterman 2011). One of the approaches that BAA took into consideration in managing the risk entails risk management planning, which involves the process of determining the most effective approach to deal with a project risk. Forsberg, Mooz, and Cotterman (2011, p. 129) corroborate that ‘risk management planning involves determining the level, type, and visibility of risk in a project’. Unlike other conventional construction projects, BAA specifically undertook project risk management, rather than delegating it to third parties. The firm entered into a contractual agreement with all contractors to minimize the likelihood of project failure (Wolmar 2015). Elvin (2007, p. 44) asserts that ‘in an integrated team, individuals focus their diverse knowledge and experience on a common goal’.

The complexity that is associated with the construction industry underscores the importance of collaboration to develop synergy, hence contributing to the generation of the desired value (Rooke, Seymou, & Fellows 2004). A successful development of an integrated team requires project managers to ensure that project stakeholders eliminate their discipline-specific interests. This strategy played an essential role in minimizing the probability of the project taking longer than initially planned. The administrator further ensured that effective procurement procedures were effectively integrated. This aspect was attained by procuring the required construction materials from credible suppliers. Consequently, the manager promoted the British Airport Authority’s commitment to the entrenchment of a culture of quality. This approach played a fundamental role in eliminating the allocation of blame to different stakeholders in the event of a problem. BAA developed a strong relationship with EC Harris, which is a leading building consultancy firm in the UK.

This goal was achieved by developing an integrated project team that comprised BAA and EC Harris representatives. Loosemore (2012) says that collaboration is one of the fundamental elements in managing resistance during the project implementation phase. Through collaboration, the project manager instills a culture of project ownership amongst the different stakeholders (Hall, Kutsch & Partington 2002). Moreover, collaboration fosters the establishment of a sense of vision amongst all project members. By developing an integrated team, an organization can minimize resistance because of the developed knowledge sharing project environment.

Project cost management constitutes an essential element in an organization’s quest to implement projects successfully. According to Meredith and Mantel (2012), project cost management emphasizes the importance of managing the cost of resources that are used during the project implementation. The importance of project cost management arises from the existence of resource scarcity. Collaboration plays a fundamental role in promoting the development of new ideas and knowledge. Hence, it promotes the attainment of a positive outcome. Expert judgment is amongst the most important techniques that are used in project cost management. Meredith and Mantel (2012) confirm how expert judgment is usually required in the course of implementing complex projects. Organizations can seek expert judgment from consultancy firms that have developed expertise concerning the project at hand.

EC Harris’ capacity to offer the necessary support during the implementation of Heathrow Terminal 5 arose from the development of a strong project relationship between the firms. BAA offered EC Harris key roles in the project implementation process. EC Harris assumed the position of the leader of progress evaluation and cost administration. The partnership between the two firms enabled BAA to save over £200million. The development of an integrated project team contributed to additional savings amounting to £100 (EC Harris 2009). Moreover, EC Harris provided knowledge on time management. Subsequently, the project was completed within the set timeframe.

The Heathrow T5 and Denver Airport projects were characterized by the involvement of different external and internal stakeholders. To improve the likelihood of knowledge generation and sharing in the project implementation phase, the manager should have considered undertaking extensive training on the internal stakeholders. One of the issues that the project manager should have focused on in the training process entails cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is one of the major issues that stimulate the development of resistance amongst project stakeholders. The likelihood of encountering cultural challenges in complex construction projects is relatively high due to the involvement of different stakeholders in the project implementation process.

Project manager’s role in Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 Project and Denver Airport project

The successful implementation of major construction projects such as the Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 Project and Denver Airport project is largely dependent on the skills and expertise of the project manager. During the process of implementing the two projects, the project managers’ role involved developing a favorable project environment to deliver the project. Therefore, they ensured that the various project tasks were successfully undertaken within the set timeframe.

To achieve this goal, the managers ensured that the projects were subdivided into different manageable project tasks. The respective project tasks were assigned to the different project team members. To promote a culture of teamwork during the project implementation phase, the BAA manager developed efficient contacts between the senior staff members. The project manager ensured that the day-to-day project activities were effectively executed. Through this approach, the project manager ensured that the project resources were optimally utilized by eliminating wastage. Furthermore, the boss was focused on promoting and sustaining a strong relationship with the external stakeholders (Kable Intelligence Limited 2015). Subsequently, the director could share the desired project culture such as time management.

Moreover, the appreciation of cultural diversity between the various stakeholders would also have played an essential role in minimizing conflicts between the various project stakeholders. This approach would have played an essential role in nurturing a culture of knowledge development through the appreciation of cultural variation as a fundamental resource in project implementation.


Bredilett, C, Yatim, F & Ruiz, P 2010, ‘Project management deployment; the role of cultural factors’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 28 no. 1, pp. 183-193.

Davies, A, Gann, D & Douglas, T 2009, ‘Innovation in megaprojects; systems integration at London Heathrow terminal 5’, California Management Review, vol. 51 no. 2, pp. 101-125.

EC Harris 2009, Effective integration and partnering delivered T5 on time and on budget, Web.

Elvin, G 2007, Integrated practice in architecture; mastering design-build, fast track and building information modelling, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.

Forsberg, K, Mooz, H & Scotterman, H 2011, Visualising project management; models and frameworks for mastering complex projects, John Wiley & Sons, Ohio.

Hall, M, Kutsch, E & Partington, D 2002, ‘Removing the cultural and managerial barriers in project to project learning; a case from the UK public sector’, Public Administration, vol. 90 no. 3, pp. 664-684.

Kable Intelligence Limited 2015,, Web.

Loosemore, M 2012, Essential of construction project management, UNSW Press, Mason, Ohio.

Meredith, J & Mantel, S 2012, Project Management; a managerial approach, Wiley, New York, NY.

Rodrigues, I & Sbragia, R 2013, ‘The cultural challenges of global project teams; a study of Brazilian multinationals’, Journal of Technology Management and Innovation, vol. 8 no. 2, pp. 38-52.

Rooke, J, Seymou, D & Fellows, R 2004, ‘Planning for claims; an ethnography of industry culture’, Construction Management and Economics, vol. 22 no. 6, pp. 655-662.

Wolmar, C 2015, , Web.

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