Social value, infrastructure and stakeholder engagement: a complex triangle

Fitton, Sarah and Moncaster, Alice (2022). Social value, infrastructure and stakeholder engagement: a complex triangle. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability, 175(4) pp. 194–201.



Infrastructure is critical for the economic and social prosperity of society. Some large infrastructure projects are also critical for the future of society due to their intergenerational nature and long lifespan. Understanding the social value of infrastructure is therefore important to deliver a socially successful as well as technically successful project. Stakeholder engagement, in turn, is critical in understanding and identifying social value; however, the strength of this relationship is often underestimated during project development. The impact of this underestimation can be detrimental to a project. Using the case study of the Didsbury Flood Storage Basin Improvements Scheme in Greater Manchester, UK, this paper demonstrates how the stakeholder engagement process is intrinsically linked to social value preservation, creation and enhancement on infrastructure projects. It is argued that by investing time, resources and money in the stakeholder engagement process, the social value creation and enhancement on a project can be significant. If this investment is missing on a project, the social value perceived to be received by stakeholders diminishes. Therefore, this paper calls for a greater understanding of the interdependency between the stakeholder engagement process and social value, and a need for an appreciation of this relationship within the infrastructure sector.

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