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Dr. A.L. van den Ende

  • Position:Promovenda / Junior docent


Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.


  • Organizational Ritual
  • Social Materiality
  • Organizational Culture
  • Cross-cultural Cooperation



The Power of Rituals in Infrastructure Megaprojects

Promotores: Prof. dr. ing. A. H. van Marrewijk & dr. ir. Kees Boersma
PhD conferral: 25 November 2015

Infrastructure megaprojects are characterized by their high cost, immense scope, inherent complexity and uncertainty, high environmental and societal impact, and the laborious collaboration between legally separated partners. In response to these challenges, the field of project management has gradually turned towards a more humanistic approach, rather than taking the traditional, dominant instrumental approach. More specifically, researchers are now addressing social and cultural dynamics in megaprojects revolving around topics such as culture, diversity, identity, power, discourse, and practices of collaboration, learning and communication. However, the practice of organizational rituals has seldom been addressed in the humanistic domain of project management. Rituals are here understood as social practices that are bounded, recurring and serial and which confer symbolic meaning to basically mundane activities and materials when carried out in specific predetermined settings. These phenomena deserve academic attention because a moderate yet growing pool of organization literature has claimed the study of rituals to offer a genuine foundation for a detailed social and cultural diagnosis of organizations. Moreover, rituals are a considered a rich source of data since they have the power to both embed cultural values and transform them. Hence, this research project aims to provide an in-depth, contextual understanding of the practice and meaning of rituals in infrastructure megaprojects as specific and novel organizational settings. In order to achieve this, the research will first explore how practices are ritualized in infrastructural megaprojects and then address when and why ritualization is taking place. Therefore, the following research question has been formulated: What can the process of ritualization contribute to our understanding of the practice and meaning of rituals in infrastructural megaprojects? This question is explored by carrying out qualitative-interpretive field research in several different infrastructure megaprojects including the North-South Metro line of Amsterdam, the Lelystad–Zwolle railway, also known as the Hanzelijn, and ‘Room for the River’, a Dutch river expansion project to manage high water levels.


Publications (Source: METIS VU)

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