Using East West Link in Melbourne and Crossrail in London as case studies, this research analyses stakeholder engagement in the planning and development phase of public infrastructure projects.
The soaring interests of the community in public infrastructure projects demand rigorous scrutiny of the performance of projects in a social context. While planning of capital intensive infrastructure projects usually undergo numerous iterations before being considered as a viable project, how such projects are perceived by the wider public depends on the efficiency in community participations and communication of relevant information in the planning and development phase of the project.
This study attends to this gap in knowledge by investigating the practice of stakeholder integration in the planning and development of infrastructure projects. Adopting Social Network Analysis (SNA) as the research method, the research examined two large infrastructure tunnelling projects, one from Melbourne, Australia and another from London, UK.
Based on a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews, responses have been gathered from the representative groups and organisations on the frequency of their communication and their satisfaction with the information exchange with other stakeholders.
The analysis of the communication and satisfaction networks of the case project from Melbourne, known as East West Link project, reveals that the key actors’ nodes, namely the promoter, sponsor and local authority, are located in the periphery with respect to the six broad issues being considered in the project. This is due to an inefficient communication network between the project authorities and the wider community, which resulted in significant mismatch of the project’s strategic intents with the public needs and expectations. Referring to the current state of the project being halted, such a finding clearly highlights the needs for evaluation of public projects from a societal perspective.
In contrast, the network analysis of the Paddington station of the Crossrail Project in the UK reveals that the key project actors’, namely local authority, sponsor, delivery agents, industry partners and utility company, took the central positions in the respective network across all six project issues. This finding clearly asserts that Crossrail enjoys a relatively higher degree of public support by aligning the strategic intents of the project with the public needs and expectations.
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