Digital Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement on Large Linear Infrastructure Projects
Large infrastructure projects face substantial social acceptance problems because they combine all the characteristics of what is known in social planning theory as a “wicked problem”. This MPhil dissertation analyses the potential of modern information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance stakeholder participation in order to deliver more accepted infrastructure development.
The dissertation first looks at the theoretical underpinnings of stake- holder engagement and participatory planning. An overview of avail- able tools for e-participation is given and the opportunities and risks of such approaches in the context of large infrastructure projects are analysed. A case study analysis is presented that looks at the UK’s high speed rail project HS2, the extension of the German power grid and the Fehmarn Belt tunnel. Interviews have been conducted with project developers and opponents, as well as experts for the design of stakeholder dialogues.
The results indicate that digital strategies offer opportunities for more meaningful stakeholder engagement if they are used as a supportive method for conventional offline stakeholder engagement methods. However, under the present institutional and regulatory circumstances, megaproject developers concentrate on information and consultation strategies and the barriers to collaborative planning of large infrastructure projects are high.