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Adapting to new realities: an analysis of institutional work in three cases of Dutch infrastructure planning

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The social and institutional context of infrastructure planning has shifted tremendously over recent decades. From top–down implementation, infrastructure planners are now forced to incorporate the demands and wishes of citizens and other external stakeholders. This paper adopts the analytical perspective of institutional work to analyse how a number of Dutch infrastructure planning organisations try to remain in control over these changes in their institutional context. Building on social systems thinking, this paper distinguishes three environments in which this control can play out: the internal environment over which an organisation has complete control, an external environment over which an organisation has little control and a transactional environment where the organisation, through its interactions with other actors, can influence institutional development. The paper concludes that while most forms of institutional work applied by the infrastructure planning organisations under study aim to change the organisations’ interactions with stakeholders, the forms of institutional work are predominantly located within the internal environment of planning organisations.
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Keywords: agency; infrastructure planning; institutional work; social system boundaries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: KWR Watercycle Research Institute, Nieuwegein, the Netherlands 2: Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Publication date: January 2, 2019

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