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Mechanisms of Power in Maritime Spatial Planning Processes in Denmark

Ocean & Coastal Management Volume 198


In the EU setting, Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is portrayed as providing a framework for arbitrating between competing human activities and managing their impact on the marine environment. However, a maritime spatial plan cannot be considered a neutral or objective instrument to decide about conflicting claims between different maritime sectors and activities. From a starting point of a desk study the authors constructed a topology of power and applied this framework to the development of MSP in Denmark. The analysis shows that the capacity that actors have to secure permitted use of the Danish sea within the current MSP process is influenced by structural, dispositional and relational powers.  

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How does structural power shape the nature and conduct of agents?
  • How does dispositional power influence the relationship between actors?
  • How does relational power enable agents to achieve a specific outcome?

Implementation Context:

This study was drafted to address the lack of problematization of power mechanisms.

Aspects / Objectives:

The objective of this study is to provide an analysis of the power mechanism in Denmark in the MSP process.


The framework elaborated in this study is based on information on the MSP process in Denmark and on the collection and analysis of data and documents. The typology of power drafted in the study is inspired by the work of Arts and van Tatenhove (2004) and Van Tatenhove et al. (2010).

Main Outputs / Results:

This study provides a typology of power and contributes to the understanding of power structures and dynamics in the MSP process, based on the Danish case.


This practice focuses on Denmark. Nevertheless, the typology of power may be relevant for the analysis of power mechanisms in other MSP processes.

Responsible Entity:

Center for Blue Governance (CBG), Aalborg University, Denmark.

Funding Source:

Center for Blue Governance (CBG), Aalborg University, Denmark.

Contact person:

P. Ramirez-Monsalve



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