Stakeholder management and path dependence in large-scale transport infrastructure development : the port of Antwerp case (1960-2010)
Faculty of Applied Economics
Journal of transport geography. - London
, p. 14-25
The present paper argues that the effective implementation of new, large-scale seaport infrastructure projects provides a stimulus to policy makers to engage on a path of continuous reflection on who and what matters in decision-making: the continuous updating of ones understanding of spatial differentiation of stakeholder views is critical in this respect, and involves the real inclusion of spatially proximate and spatially distant stakeholders. We analyze the role of path dependency in the socio-political process of long-term strategic port planning and the related requisite governance changes needed for effective implementation of large scale port projects. We mainly base ourselves on the most recent insights from stakeholder theory and the strategic planning literature, applied to the transport sector. Further, we take as a starting point one of the criticisms on path dependence that its proper application warrants more attention to temporal dynamics. We attempt to define these temporal dynamics and argue that (1) these are best identified by means of stakeholder-based analysis, and (2) long-term, strategic port planning based on real stakeholder inclusion can act as a driver for governance change in the broader port region or port system. We use a case-based, action-research type methodological approach, analyzing the strategic port planning process of the port of Antwerp to support our argument. We combine diachronic analysis of stakeholder inclusion in port planning, with an analysis of the general economic and infrastructural evolution of the port area and its impacts on stakeholders since 1960, and pay special attention to port governance changes during the period 19602010.