Tristano Sainati

Førsteamanuensis II - Institutt for ledelse og organisasjon


Tristano is an Associate Professor of Project Management in the Department of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at BI-Norwegian Business School. With a background in Industrial Engineering (BEng + MSc) and English Common Law (LLB), Tristano's research combines legal, management, and financial aspects of infrastructure projects. His PhD research investigated Special Purpose Vehicles' incorporation and governance mechanisms in large engineering projects. Additionally, Tristano is an expert in financing and contracting for infrastructure projects in the energy, nuclear, and sanitation sectors. His current research focus also examines white-collar crimes in projects, including corruption, money laundering, modern slavery, and fraud. Research Grant Awarded – Principal Investigator (PI) 2021 EPSRC, EP/P022049/1, Title “Generation Integrated Energy Storage - A Paradigm Shift”, Total Value: £ 418’921. Link. This work package is part of a larger EPSRC Grant led by the University of Nottingham (EP/P023320/1), and it involves the University of Birmingham (EP/P023436/1), and the University of Cambridge (EP/P021867/1). 2020 EURAM-PMI Sponsored Research, Title: “Anti-corruption measures for major infrastructure programmes”, Total value: $45’000.

Research Grant Awarded– Co-Investigator 2022, High-Speed Rail 2 ltd (Internal innovation project), Title: “Phase 2B Geothermal”. Principal investigator: Dr Fleur Loveridge (F.A.Loveridge@leeds.ac.uk). Total Value £48,655

2019, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Title: “Climate, Costs and Urban Sanitation (C-CUS)” Phase 2. Principal investigator: Professor Barbara Evans (B.E.Evans@leeds.ac.uk), Total Value: $ 523’740.00. Personal involvement/contribution: 20% FTE. Research Fellowships CACTUS (ClimAte, CosTs and Urban Sanitation) aims to develop the international benchmark for costing, carbon emissions, and welfare in urban sanitation infrastructure. CACTUS compares alternative systems and technologies along the entire sanitation value chain, from the collection of human faeces to their treatment and safe disposal. Tristano is still part of the CACTUS team led by Professor Barbara Evans at the University of Leeds. CACTUS is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

FARB focused on the modularisation of large onshore O&G facilities (2013). Tristano represented the Politecnico di Milano in a mixed research team that included construction managers, marine surveyors, experts in logistics, and design engineers. The project involved three institutions: the Politecnico di Milano, the Associazione Nazionale Impiantistica Industriale (ANIMP) and its members, and the European Construction Institute (ECI).

InnovANCE developed the National BIM (Building Information Modeling) Server for the Italian construction industry (2012). InnovANCE was a large research and IT project funded by the Ministry of Economic Development in Italy. Research interests Governance of infrastructure projects. Tristano's research interests are focused on the governance of infrastructure projects. He is particularly interested in studying the institutional structures and decision-making processes involved in these projects. This includes analyzing the institutions, regulations, policies, and cultural factors that shape the governance of infrastructure projects.

Project Contracting. Tristano is interested in exploring effective strategies for transferring risks and responsibilities to contracting parties. The aim is to promote collaboration and minimize the likelihood of litigation. He focuses on creating sustainable deals for all parties involved.

Project Finance.
Tristano is interested in the negotiation and due diligence processes involved in project finance transactions, particularly attracting private investors to infrastructure projects. He studies the financial, contractual, and accounting aspects that allow sponsors to finance projects off-balance sheet, leading to advantages such as higher financial leverage, limited impact on risk metrics, increased borrowing capacity, and tax benefits.

Costing of Sanitation Infrastructure. Tristano focuses on estimating and generalizing the cost of different sanitation services along the sanitation value chain, including analyzing the costs of various technologies and operations involved in managing human excreta safely. His research aims to provide insights into cost-effective solutions for sanitation infrastructure.

Licensing of nuclear power plants (NPPs). Tristano studies the licensing process of NPPs, which is crucial for ensuring their safety and regulatory compliance. This includes examining the design, site selection, and operating organization of NPPs. His research aims to contribute to the development of efficient and safe nuclear power generation.

Dark Side of Projects.
Recent Tristano’s research concerns compliance and illegal behaviour in infrastructure including corruption, conflict of interest, and money laundering. Editorial Activities
· 2020- Editorial Board: Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, Link · 2020 - present, Member of the Editorial Review Board (ERB) of the Project Management Journal, Link · 2022 - Guest Editor, Project Management Journal, Special Issue: “Sustainability ‘by’ and ‘of’ the Project”, Link · 2021 - 2023, Social Media and Communications Officer for the Project Experiences SIG at the British Academy of Management (BAM) · 2020 - Guest Editor, Project Management Journal, Special Issue: “The Dark Side of Projects, Uncovering Slavery, Corruption, Criminal Organizations, and Other Uncomfortable Topics”, Link · 2020 - Guest Editor, Journal of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene for Development, Special Issue: ‘WASH Economics and Financing: towards a better understanding of costs and benefits”, Link


Alzoubi, Yazan; Locatelli, Giorgio & Sainati, Tristano (2023)

The ugly side of construction: modern slavery in the 2022 FIFA World Cup program

Construction Management and Economics Doi: 10.1080/01446193.2023.2269434

Modern slavery is an illegal and unethical practice that is widespread across several sectors, including construction. This article investigates the mechanisms and motivations for employing modern slaves in construction projects and the role of “political will” in fighting it. To this end, using a cross-sectional single case study, the article examines the case of Qatar’s construction of the infrastructure for the 2022 FIFA World Cup—a large construction program in which modern slavery has been extensively documented. Our theoretical lens is the Fraud Triangle Theory (opportunity, pressure, and rationalization), which is rarely used in construction management but is useful for investigating illegal or unethical phenomena. The findings document the various factors contributing to modern slavery, including the kafala system, confiscated passports, debt bondage, contract substitution, salary abuse, program time constraints, cash flow shortage, and weak internal control systems. This article’s key novel theoretical contributions relate to identifying why modern slavery occurs in construction projects using the Fraud Triangle Theory and highlighting the importance of “political will” in fighting modern slavery worldwide.

Sainati, Tristano; Locatelli, Giorgio & Mignacca, Benito (2023)

Social sustainability of energy infrastructures: The role of the programme governance framework

Energy, 282 Doi: 10.1016/j.energy.2023.128630

The energy infrastructure literature focuses on the economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability, neglecting the social dimension. Particularly obscure is how the programme governance frameworks of energy projects and programmes shape their social performance. We address this gap in knowledge by leveraging a cross-case analysis of comparable energy infrastructures planned and delivered in contexts with different programme governance frameworks (i.e., Iran, Italy, Nigeria, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and the USA). This article first clarifies how investigating social sustainability at the infrastructure/project level is inadequate, showing that the overarching programme governance framework - set at the country level - is a major driver for social sustainability. Second, this article identifies three perspectives to examine the link between the programme governance framework and social sustainability: 1) Types of contracts, 2) Leadership of the infrastructure programme, and 3) Maturity of the legal and regulatory framework. These perspectives are combined to provide a novel analytical framework, useful to both examine the present status and plan future energy infrastructures. Last, this article discusses the findings from a policy perspective deriving a research agenda.

Sam, Rohunsingh; Sainati, Tristano, Hanson, Bruce & Kay, Robert (2023)

Licensing small modular reactors: A state-of-the-art review of the challenges and barriers

Progress in nuclear energy (New series), 164 Doi: 10.1016/j.pnucene.2023.104859

Small Modular Reactors are gaining significant interest for their reduced footprint, lower power output, modularity, and innovative features. The licensing of SMRs is key to their successful deployment. However, the literature on this subject area is limited and often fragmented among other characteristics of the SMRs, thus failing to address the licensing aspects distinctly. The paper employs a systematic literature review to identify the potential nuclear licensing barriers and challenges that can influence the deployment of SMR and to provide an overview of their implications. The authors differentiate between licensing barriers and challenges as follows. The licensing barriers are likely to affect the deployment of SMRs for over a decade and necessitate the collaboration of multiple organisations. The licensing challenges can be resolved within ten years and can be led by a single organisation to deliver the solution. The licensing barriers are: (1) existing legal and regulatory framework; (2) prescriptive regulatory framework; (3) novelty in the technology; (4) regulatory fragmentation; and (5) absence of in-factory certification. The licensing challenges are: (1) fees charged by regulators; (2) regulatory capability gaps; and (3) lengthy licensing duration. The identified barriers and challenges have implications on the project timeline and cost, consequently affecting the overall economics of the SMR.

Juarez Cornelio, Jose Rodrigo; Sainati, Tristano & Locatelli, Giorgio (2023)

Digging in the megaproject's graveyard: Why do megaprojects die, and how to check their health?

International Journal of Project Management, 41(6) Doi: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2023.102501 - Fulltekst i vitenarkiv

The pressure to complete Infrastructure Megaprojects (IMs) is enormous; once started, IMs are commonly considered too costly to be stopped. Still, despite this widespread belief, several IMs are terminated during delivery/construction. Notwithstanding its empirical and theoretical relevance, few studies investigate IMs termination during delivery/construction. This paper aims to develop further the “reverse escalation of commitment” theory which sense-makes the termination of IMs. We take a critical confrontation of the existing literature addressing two questions: (1) Why are IMs terminated during delivery/construction? and (2) How does the project termination process occur in IMs? By analysing 30 unfinished IMs, we identified the six determinants for IMs termination, contributing to the development of reverse-escalation of commitment theory by providing a processual perspective of the four most common patterns leading to IMs termination. Finally, we provide a checklist for identifying key elements leading to IMs termination.

Akademisk grad
År Akademisk institusjon Grad
2019 The Open University Bachelor of Laws
2018 University of Leeds, School of Civil Engineering Doctor in Philosophy
2018 University of Montpellier Unknown
2011 Politecnico di Milano, Department of Management, Economics & Industrial Engineering MSc in Management Science
2007 Politecnico di Milano, Department of Management, Economics & Industrial Engineering B.Eng.