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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Nils Goldbeck

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.