P19 The infrastructural turn in public governance: exploring new and hybrid infrastructure constellations

Corresponding and Review group chair

Arnoud Toering, PhD Researcher, Delft University of Technology, The Nederlands. A.R.Toering@tudelft.nl


Clive Dodds, PhD Candidate, University of Brighton, UK

David Noble,  Associate Professor, Southern Cross University, Australia

Rodger Watson, Senior Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney, Australia


Society faces major complex and persistent sustainability challenges. The scientific literature presents a range of strategies to stimulate the speed and development of sustainability transitions. In particular, research has shown that infrastructure is highly synergistic with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the governance and decision-making of infrastructure, as a basis for change, is rarely given explicit attention. In this panel, we specifically focus on the challenges and opportunities of new and hybrid infrastructure constellations to shape sustainability transitions. We refer to this phenomenon as the infrastructural turn. The central idea is that a new and hybrid infrastructure constellation can be leveraged to change social, ecological, and technical interactions and therefore act as an agent of change, yet still deliver public value. However, the high degree of interdependencies between infrastructure systems and the ambitions of cross-sectoral sustainability initiatives create many uncertainties that are no longer bound to any specific sector. This creates coordination challenges for multiple levels of governments, infrastructure managers and service providers.

The panel welcomes a broad range of sectors, including energy, mobility, logistics and water. Examples of infrastructure constellations include: heat pipelines, charging stations, airports, mobility hubs and water installations. Examples of questions related to sustainable development of infrastructure:

  • In what way can the infrastructural turn contribute to SDGs?
  • What actors are involved in the infrastructural turn and how is it coordinated? What modes of coordination (hierarchy, network, market) might contribute to the infrastructural turn? Do we need new forms?
  • What resources are involved in the infrastructural turn and how is it coordinated?
  • What public values are involved in the infrastructural turn and how is it coordinated? Are there conflicts between different public values? 

Theoretical framework and methods

The panel invites theoretical, review and empirical papers that deal with these questions or other questions related to the sustainable development of infrastructure. Paper abstracts should include a short description of the topic, the research question(s) and method, and an indication of the research findings.