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The Next Generation Engagement Project

Understanding the Complexities of People and Projects 

15 March 2017

The International Centre for Complex Project Management will partner with the University of Melbourne’s groundbreaking Next Generation Engagement Project to better understand the stakeholder aspects of project delivery.

ICCPM CEO Deborah Hein said: “The Next Generation Engagement Project has a special interest in translating evidence based research into practical tools for industry – this is an interest that we share.  ICCPM looks forward to examining the relationship between projects and communities and to identifying the key challenges in this space that will enable practitioners to understand the complexity that arises during engagement processes particularly where there are multiple stakeholders.”

Social license expert, Dr Sara Bice, is leading the project on behalf of the Melbourne School of Government.

“There appears to be a significant challenge emerging in terms of the relationship between communities and infrastructure projects.  Anecdotally, we are told that community factors have significant impacts on the budget, schedule and scope of major infrastructure projects. Almost $20 billion in largely taxpayer-funded projects have been delayed, cancelled or completed and then mothballed over the past decade in Australia and it appears that community conflict may have contributed to this.  The Next Generation Engagement Project aims to identify the key engagement challenges and gaps in delivering new infrastructure and to then address them through applied research with industry, government and ultimately community.  Partners such as the ICCPM will play a vital role in helping us to understand the problem. Their understanding of managing complexity in project environments will allow us to create a clearer picture of the core social challenges facing Australia’s infrastructure delivery. What’s more, their experience in engagement research will give us some invaluable building blocks for our work” Dr Bice said.

Over the coming six months the University of Melbourne and its partners will conduct the largest national consultation on engagement to date. This will include:

  • a national survey on engagement and social license challenges for Australia’s infrastructure sector
  • workshops in each capital city with leading Australian practitioners and international infrastructure experts
  • a gap analysis that details the most critical knowledge gaps for the community engagement profession
  • testing the gap analysis with infrastructure professionals across Australia.

Dr Bice said, “Through this work we aim to identify the biggest roadblocks around engagement, social risk management and social license for infrastructure delivery together with an analysis of emerging trends and challenges.  Our aim is to get this information onto the desk of key decision makers in Australia’s infrastructure sector to really inform the discussion. Our intention is that this work will seed longer-term research partnerships that will help industry to make meaningful progress on these issues.”

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