In this paper we focus on the early stages of projects and their governance implications by investigating the introduction of nuclear power in Finland. We look at the early stages through the lens of path dependence and illustrate how early decisions may lead the project down the wrong path. However, we also develop a path creation perspective in order to develop an understanding of how the project actors in our case deliberately navigated in the cold war atmosphere to avoid a budding lock-in. This historical study highlights the importance of building relationships between key actors and securing their commitment during the early stages of a project. We argue that strong relationships and commitment open up opportunities for creating alternative paths during project appraisal, increase the array of available governance mechanisms, and hence lay the foundations for the final governance structure of the project execution phase.