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Strategic transport infrastructure planning: centralisation or decentralisation?
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3878-0930
(English)In: European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, ISSN 1567-7141Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

In this article strategic planning in transport infrastructure is analysed based on the two concepts coordination and knowledge. It is asked whether the knowledge base necessary for a successful coordination on higher, centralised spatial levels, is possible to access for public sector planners. Decentralisation of strategic planning might lead to more adequate access to information but less probably to successful coordination, since fewer aspects can be coordinated on lower spatial level. This knowledge problem would pose a true dilemma for strategic infrastructure planning.

Currently the USA seems to be taking steps in the direction of decentralisation of transport infrastructure planning while the EU seems to be striving for centralisation. It is suggested that these developments seem understandable, taking the different challenges in the EU and the US into consideration. Both strategies might though run the risk of leading to new government failures.

Openings for spontaneous market orderings might offer an alternative to these measures. Market structures might address the knowledge problem better than centralised public sector planning. A combination of centralised strategic planning and market openings could be an alternative for the EU to combine strategic planning experiences from the US with structures that allow for developed knowledge creation.

This view contrasts against the dominant perspectives in most of the recent research in transport infrastructure planning. Mainstream planning literature treats public sector planning as the expected model for how to organise strategic transport infrastructure planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Delft: Delft Universtity of Technology.
Keyword [en]
Coordination, knowledge, transport infrastructure, strategic planning
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-123608OAI: diva2:628212

QS 2013

Available from: 2013-06-13 Created: 2013-06-13 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

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