Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
The Swedish Government as Owner of Transport Infrastructure: Policy formation from the 1930s to the 2010s
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.
2012 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration, ISSN 1402-8700, Vol. 16, no 4, 49-71 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Governments have a choice whether to intervene in the transport infrastructure sector to manage, finance and own the assets of the sector, or to rely on markets and private sector actors for the provision of these systems. In this article the development of rail and road infrastructure in Sweden and the choice between government and market provision of these systems are analyzed from a co-evolutionary perspective. Technology, economics, and politics have influenced the government’s policy formation and decisions on organizational models over time, such as the nationalization of roads and railroads in the 1930s-40s. The aim for improved economic efficiency and reduction of cost differences between different parts of the country rather than political ideology explain why roads and railroads were nationalized. Through adjusting its ownership role and policy content the government has, over time, accommodated to the different influences from technology, economics and politics. The government’s ownership of transport infrastructure has not been challenged since the nationalization. This could be seen as a sign of a successful gradual policy adjustment from the government’s side, thereby avoiding private sector solutions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Förvaltningshögskolan , 2012. Vol. 16, no 4, 49-71 p.
Keyword [en]
Government, roads, railroads, co-evolution
National Category
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123579OAI: diva2:627909

QC 20130614

Available from: 2013-06-12 Created: 2013-06-12 Last updated: 2013-06-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Government's Role for Transport Infrastructure: Theoretical Approaches and Historical Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Government's Role for Transport Infrastructure: Theoretical Approaches and Historical Development
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis analyzes and discusses the development of the Swedish government’s role as owner and financier of roads and railroads from the 1930s until the 2010s. The influence on the development of the government’s role from two main theoretical paradigms is discussed and analyzed. These are:

a) neoclassical and welfare economics; and

b) new institutional economic theory with an organizational focus.

The thesis shows that there has been a shift from an institutional view on the organization and financing of the road and railroad systems following the nationalization in the 1930-40s, to a view more based on welfare economics from the 1970s.

Technology, economics and politics are three important factors influencing the development of the transport systems and of the government’s role. In the thesis these factors are covered in a co-evolutionary approach applied for analysis of the historical development. This approach connects to a dynamic view on organizations and firms in institutional theory.

Over time there have been shifts in the strength of the factors (technology, economics and politics) influencing the development. There have also been controversies around financing principles and contradictions between different elements in the policies actually pursued over time. One such controversy has been whether to aim for full cost coverage or for marginal cost coverage.

The thesis discusses how planning and coordination in the transport infrastructure sector can come about. A centralized public sector planner mode is contrasted towards a private sector spontaneous ordering mode. It is argued that it is difficult for a centralized planner to collect the necessary information and transform it into deepened knowledge in order to coordinate. A decentralized spontaneous ordering mode might though allow for including the necessary knowledge.

The thesis illustrates a number of trade-offs that must be taken into consideration when discussing a possible future development for transport infrastructure and the government’s role. The following aspects are discussed:

- the balance between public and private as the basic organizing principle;

- the balance between government and regions/local governments when it comes to

- the geographical division of responsibility; and

- the balance between the national and EU levels for strategic transport infrastructure planning and coordination, also in relation to spontaneous coordination and centralized planning.

The government has acted reluctantly and pragmatically and gradually developed its ownership role and the general policies in the sector. The government’s emphasis on market failure as its basic assumption has become stronger over time.

The thesis brings a deepened understanding of the long-term development of the government’s ownership and policy formation in the transport infrastructure sector in relation to the two theoretical paradigms. This combination of a historical view with the theoretical economic background gives new insights into the past and future of the government’s role for transport infrastructure.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. 107 p.
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 2013:05
Government, Market, Planning, Transport Infrastructure
National Category
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123626 (URN)978-91-7501-765-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-08-26, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)

QC 20130614

Available from: 2013-06-14 Created: 2013-06-13 Last updated: 2013-06-14Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

The Swedish Government as Owner of Transport Infrastructure(345 kB)174 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 345 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links


Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Hasselgren, Björn
By organisation
Urban and Regional Studies
Economic History

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 174 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 73 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link