Principles of Project Appraisal and Selection

  • George Irvin


Economists often speak of something called the ‘project cycle’ by which is meant the various stages of information gathering and decision making which take place between a project’s inception and completion. One may list these in roughly the following manner:
  1. 1.


  2. 2.


  3. 3.

    feasibility (technical, financial, economic);

  4. 4.


  5. 5.


Such a characterisation, based on categories typically used by administrators and consultants, suggests neat dividing lines between stages in project evaluation. In reality, these divisions are somewhat artificial, but do serve to emphasise the need to think of project planning as a process of decision making taking place over time. Broadly speaking, what is important about this process is that it should begin with the identification of a number of alternatives, using existing information and gathering new data in such a way as to limit alternatives under consideration to those few which are most promising. In short, the project evaluation process is essentially one of elimination. While the planner naturally hopes that the best alternative will emerge, hence contributing to maximising welfare, he will be pleased if the process produces something less than that: i.e. minimises the incidence of ‘white elephants’.


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Copyright information

© George Irvin 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Irvin
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Social StudiesThe HagueThe Netherlands

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