Online stakeholder interactions in the early stage of a megaproject
The purpose of this article is to examine the network structure of online stakeholder discussions in the planning stage of a UK public megaproject, High Speed Rail 2. By providing new rail connections between London, Birmingham, and Manchester, this project is highly complex as it is embedded in a network of stakeholder relationships that may support or oppose the project. Data drawn from Twitter were analyzed using Social Network Analysis and inductive analysis of user profiles and content. Findings indicate that the majority of online stakeholders oppose the project and form stable clusters. Larger clusters within this network may attempt to deploy power directly in the form of a manipulation strategy, whereas smaller clusters may seek to ally themselves with more powerful groups, a pathway strategy. Overall, the methodology is a useful complement to existing methods and may provide real-time insights into the complex, evolving discussions around megaprojects.