Labyrinth of labels: Narrative constructions of promoters and protesters in megaprojects

Johan Ninan, Natalya Sergeeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Labels as part of narratives are instrumental in the process of organising, particularly in megaprojects that seek to garner legitimacy and support of external stakeholders. While organisation scholars acknowledge that the process of labelling is contested, research on how different organisations navigate these labels remain limited. Within megaproject settings, labels such as largest, sustainable, efficient, etc., are frequently exercised and there is currently a dearth in megaproject management literature on how these labels come into becoming, are contested, and are maintained. Using the case study of the shaping phase of the High Speed Two Limited (HS2) megaproject in the UK, this research explores the multiple labels given to the megaproject, people, and practice by the promoters and protesters, and the ways labels play a role in shaping organisational identity. The processes that maintain and contest the labels such as using the same label, using other labels, explaining the label, and using labels in the title of the organisation are discussed. Thus, labels exist in megaproject arenas as a labyrinth with multiple labels for megaproject, people, and practices, from different agencies, which are then contested and maintained through more labels. This research therefore theorizes label creation, maintenance, and contestation in megaproject settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-506
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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