A narrative method for learning from innovative coastal projects – Biographies of the Sand Engine

Lotte E. Bontje*, Jill H. Slinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
80 Downloads (Pure)


The cyclic nature of integrated coastal management embodies a learning-based approach. Pilot projects in particular have an explicit learning objective. Whereas learning from (changing) physical aspects is often part of the monitoring and evaluation phase within the ICM cycle, learning from the experiences of people is not structurally embedded in integrated coastal management. In this paper a method for learning from the experiences of different actors involved in the realisation of a pilot project is developed. The experiences of actors are expressed in personal narratives obtained in open interview settings. The narrative method developed in this paper, draws on methods deriving from narrative analysis and social science, and results in biographies that represent shared actor-based perceptions on the origin and evolution of a particular pilot project. Learning is then derived from analysis, interpretation and discussion of these biographies. The method is applied to a Dutch coastal pilot project, the Sand Engine. This massive, artificial, sandy peninsula, implemented in 2011, is designed to enhance coastal safety and forms a nature and recreation area. The narrative analysis of this case results in three biographies that contribute to understanding success experiences in this project, and the resonance of narrative-elements within the coastal policy community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Actor experiences
  • Case study
  • Coastal pilot projects
  • Governance
  • Narrative analysis


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