Towards social sustainability of industrial parks: The Dutch case

Nesar Moshtaq, Isabel Kreiner, Lichin Brouwers-Ren, María-Laura Franco-García

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As the world is facing great challenges on environmental crisis, the global economic sector has become more aware of the need for moving towards sustainable economic development. In the past years, many initiatives were launched at this regard. The development of industrial parks to faster economic development, to tackle poverty and create jobs on local, regional and national levels, has played and is still playing a key role. Especially with policy makers who bare a great responsibility to facilitate the deployment of those initiatives. For instance, in the Netherlands the main focus has been put on ensuring economic prosperity and jobs for everyone. However, while much attention has been given to the economic and environmental dimension of the sustainability concept, the social dimension is less developed and therefore poorly embedded in the economic planning and activities of industrial parks. Therefore, this study is conducted to find out what the current status quo is in The Netherlands regarding the concept of social sustainability in the context of industrial parks. More specifically, the perception of key-stakeholders on social sustainability is analysed.
Throughout multi case study comparison as research method, three Dutch industrial parks were selected, observed and analysed to find out “how the concept of social sustainability is perceived by the key-stakeholders”. These cases included a sustainable industrial park, a traditional industrial park which is currently in a transformation phase into a sustainable park and a traditional industrial park. The research has revealed that currently the understandings of key-stakeholders regarding the sustainability concept in general, are mainly based on the environmental dimension. As for the social dimension of the concept, the key-stakeholders strongly associate it with ‘job creation’ for the communities despite the fact it covers many other relevant indicators as well. Furthermore, the study has revealed that an alignment regarding strategic planning and operational activities of industrial parks and individual companies is not included in the broader perspective of sustainability. This has mainly to do with the fact that a thorough understanding by the key-stakeholders regarding the concept is missing. In addition to that, the industrial parks and more specifically, individual companies are mainly profit oriented and do not see what the benefits of social sustainability might be for their business activities. However, given the limitations of this research and the little response of individual companies, the findings of this research cannot be generalized to other cases in the Netherlands. Further studies should focus on exploring the possibilities for bottom-up approaches to move industrial parks to a more social sustainable park. This could be very interesting as current approaches are mainly focused on top-down initiatives. Individual companies are profit oriented and are continuously putting the question forward: “What is in-it for me? Why should I focus on (social) sustainability or Corporate Social Sustainability (CSR)?”. Various studies conducted by researchers in the field of CSR shows that companies could benefit significantly if they operate more socially sustainable Flammer, (2015). Therefore, it could be interesting for further research to find out how to advocate for more socially sustainable industrial parks in the Netherlands, while the focus of companies should be on value creation rather than “merely” on profit making in order to expand.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication4° Congreso de Ingeniería, Ciencia y Gestión Ambiental AMICA - 5th International Conference of Greening of Industry Network
Subtitle of host publication28, 29 y 30 de octobre de 2019, Instituto de Ingeniería de la UNAM, Ciudad de México
Place of PublicationCiudad de México
PublisherUNAM, Instituto de Ingeniería
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event4th Congress of Engineering, Science and Environmental Management and 5th International Conference of Greening of Industry Network, AMICA 2019 - Mexico City/Ciudad de México, Mexico
Duration: 28 Oct 201930 Oct 2019


Conference4th Congress of Engineering, Science and Environmental Management and 5th International Conference of Greening of Industry Network, AMICA 2019
Abbreviated titleAMICA
CityMexico City/Ciudad de México


  • Sustainability
  • Social sustainability
  • Industrial parks
  • Key-stakeholders
  • The Netherlands


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