Phase 1: Problem Formulation
The problem formulation consists of
three research questions:
• RQ1: What is an SPE?
• RQ2: Which types of SPEs exist?
• RQ3: Why are SPEs used in megaprojects?
Phase 2: Data Collection
The research leverages data from interna-
tional journals, conference papers, books,
and reports from national and interna-
tional organizations (e.g., Basel Council,
OECD, national statistic organizations
or regulatory authorities). The data col-
lection followed two streams: the first
reviews papers (international journals
and conferences) and books; the second
reviews institutional reports. Journals and
books are retrieved from the Scopus and
Science Direct databases. The authors
selected a set of keywords assembled into
search strings, as reported in Table 1.
The institutional documents involve:
reports from accounting standard regu-
lators, banking institutions, rating agen-
cies, and other relevant institutions
(e.g., advisory firms, such as Pricewa-
terhouseCoopers). Preference is given to
documents written by established and
trustworthy institutions. In summary,
the data collected comprises 2,166 jour-
nal papers, 1,094 conference papers, 66
books, and 24 reports—for a total of
Phase 3: Data Evaluation
The 3,350 documents collected during
the second phase were all individually
ranked according to four levels of relevance and then coded. Most of the documents collected were out of scope (e.g.,
special purpose vehicle was understood
as a means of transportation), and further screening consistently reduced the
number of documents analyzed in detail.
Subsequently, the authors ranked the relevance of the documents, considering the
title, abstract, and keywords. Consistent
with Pittaway, Robertson, Munir, Denyer,
and Neely (2004), the ranking was based
on a scale from 0 (not relevant) to 3
(highly relevant) and considered: theory
robustness, the implications for practice,
methodology, data supporting arguments, generalizability, and contribution.
Fifty-four documents with a “relevance”
of 2 or 3 were scrutinized and then further
analyzed (i.e., the whole document) in the
following phases (see Appendix 1.
Phase 4: Analysis and Interpretation
To harmonize the knowledge concerning SPEs across the legal, financial,
Figure 1: Methodology phases.
1. Problem formulation
2. Data collection
3. Data evaluation
4. Analysis and
1. Definitions of SPEs
2. Typology of the existing SPEs
3. Comparison of existing SPEs
4. Descriptions of the SPEs used in megaprojects
Examples of SPEs
RQ2: Which types of SPEs exist?
RQ3: Why are the SPEs used in megaprojects?
6. Public presentation
Scopus Science Direct
Keywords Special purpose entit, special purpose vehicle, project financ, structured
financ, off sheet fianc, securitization, shell compan
Subjects considered Engineering, business,
management and accounting,
decision sciences, economics,
econometrics and finance
Bank, cash flow, decision support,
developing country, energy
policy, firm, interest rate, project
management, renewable energy,
renewable management, risk
management, stock market, supply
chain, supply chain, sustainable
development and World Bank
Year of publication 1960–2014
Table 1: Search parameters for literature collection (Scopus and Science Direct).