Infrastructure governance for the Anthropocene

Mikhail V. Chester, Thaddeus Miller, Tischa A. Muñoz-Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Transitioning infrastructure governance for accelerating, increasingly uncertain, and increasingly complex environments is paramount for ensuring that critical and basic services are met during times of stability and instability.Yet the bureaucratic structures that dominate infrastructure organizations and their capacity to respond to increasing complexity remain poorly understood.To change infrastructure governance, it is critical to understand current conditions, the barriers to change, and the strategies needed to shift priorities and leadership strategy. The emergence of modern infrastructure bureaucratic and organizational structure is first explored. The need to rethink infrastructure as knowledge enterprises capable of making sense of changing conditions, and not simply as basic service providers, is discussed. Next, transformation of infrastructure governance is presented as both a challenge of organizational change as identity and power and leadership capacity to shift between stable and unstable conditions. Infrastructure bureaucracies should create capabilities to shift between periods of stability and instability, emphasizing flexibility where ad hoc teams are given power to make sense of changing conditions and steer the organization appropriately. Additionally, several critical factors must be addressed within organizational power structures, identities, and processes to facilitate change. Allowing infrastructure governance to persist in its current form is likely increasingly problematic for the future and may result in an increasing inability to maintain relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number078
JournalElementa
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 30 2020

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • Complexity
  • Governance
  • Infrastructure
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science

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