Rijkswaterstaat is well known for its powerful position in the development of transport and hydraulic infrastructure in the Netherlands, for its engineering expertise and for bringing the Dutch worldwide fame by realising major public works, such as the Delta Works. In recent decades, however, Rijkswaterstaat’s strong position of power and its working methods have been increasingly challenged in various intense public debates. These debates were about its perceived technocratic management of large infrastructure projects and, more generally, about its contribution to the modernisation of the Dutch government. As a consequence, Rijkswaterstaat found itself on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, it needed its renowned expert status to fulfil its public responsibilities. On the other hand, it also needed to distance itself from this expert status to be able to meet the increasing social and political imperative of developing into a more responsive and efficient public organisation.
By adopting a discursive approach, this book examines the way in which Rijkswaterstaat tried to deal with this dilemma in constructing a new organisational identity, in particular in the early years of the 21st century, and how this is reflected in concrete Room for the River planning practices.
Margo van den Brink conducted her PhD research at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, in the Department of Spatial Planning. She is now an assistant professor in the Department of Planning at the University of Groningen.