Thesis title: The role of the third sector in mega infrastructure projects
Mega infrastructure projects are traditionally viewed as partnerships between public and private sectors. There has been increasing concern at the way in which the governance and decision making in what are major undertakings for any society occur within a 'democracy deficit'. Costs and benefits are often opaque and the tools for assessing them prone to distortion. Despite the rhetoric of private financing megaprojects are hard to realise without significant public resources with the taxpayer often underwriting the risks taken by private sector actors.
With politicians and civil servants prone to 'capture' by project promoters one solution suggested has been a greater involvement of civil society in decision making on megaprojects. My research examines whether or not this would in practice lead to better, more transparent and democratic decision making. I explore the extent to which this has and will continue to shape megaprojects and whether or not it will produce infrastructure more able to meet the challenge of sustainable development.
Drawing on the research of the Omega Centre into over thirty megaprojects around the world my research uses the concept of the third sector to examine governance and decision making. Viewed as a space or tension between public and private sectors the third sector encompasses a wide range of organisations, actors and interests. This provides a useful point from which to view megaprojects as it contains a much wider range of perspectives than the binary conception of public/private decision making. It provides a broader understanding of projects that are massive human endeavours, the winners and losers they create and how they shape society and space.