This paper describes a preliminary research proposal for graduate study. A large percentage of installed sanitation technology fails before its design lifespan. Insufficient operations and maintenance is often cited as a reason for these failures. As such, this paper proposes a research plan aimed at understanding how we can enable more sustainable projects. Past research tends to focus on project phases before and during construction, and how technical project teams function. Therefore, we extend existing theory by focusing on the postconstruction project phase. We move towards a knowledge-based view of the project, and explore the relationship between knowledge networks and project governance. This research will be carried out in the context of development engineering. Development is defined as systemic change involving technology, which may be due to either changed technology or a changed context. The practical goal of this theoretical contribution is to enable project sustainability on a lifecycle basis and reduce the public health, social, environmental, and financial costs of failed infrastructure. Enormous resources are being expended on sanitation projects in order to extend their benefits to all people. However, simply building new systems will not achieve this goal if they fail—in other words, if they are not socially and technically sustainable. Unfortunately, based on current failure rates, as they are currently being designed, sanitation systems do not seem to meet these basic criteria. This research seeks to address this lack.
Kaminsky, J., and Javernick-Will, A. (2011). "Sanitation Networks in Developing Communities." Engineering Project Organization Conference. Estes Park, CO.