Comparative planning research, learning, and governance: The benefits and limitations of learning policy by comparison

In this article, we develop a perspective on the value of, and methodologies for, comparative planning research. Through comparative research, similarities and differences between planning cases and experiences can be disentangled. This opens up possibilities for learning across planning systems, and possibly even the transfer of best planning and policy practices across systems, places, or countries. Learning in governance systems is always constrained; learning in planning systems is further constrained by the characteristics of the wider governance system in which planning is embedded. Moreover, self-transformation of planning systems always takes place, not always driven by intentional learning activities of individuals and organizations, or of the system as a whole. One can strive to increase the reflexivity in planning systems though, so that the system becomes more aware of its own features, driving forces, and modes of self-transformation. This can, in turn, increase the space for intentional learning. One important source of such learning is the comparison of systems at different scales and learning from successes and failures. We place this comparative learning in the context of other forms of learning and argue that there is always space for comparative learning, despite the rigidities that characterize planning and governance. Dialectical learning is presented as the pinnacle of governance learning, into which comparative learning, as well as other forms of learning, feed.

Publication | Van Assche, K., Beunen, R. & Verweij, S. (2020). Comparative planning research, learning, and governance: The benefits and limitations of learning policy by comparison. Urban Planning, 5 (1), 11-21.

The paper is part of the special issue on “Comparative Planning, Learning, and Evolving Governance” in Urban Planning, edited by Kristof van Assche (University of Alberta, Canada), Raoul Beunen (Open University, Netherlands), and Stefan Verweij (University of Groningen, Netherlands).

Publication | Van Assche, K., Beunen, R. & Verweij, S. (2020). Learning from other places and their plans: Comparative learning in and for planning systems. Urban Planning, 5 (1), 1-5.

 

The role of the public partner in innovation in transport infrastructure PPPs: A qualitative comparative analysis of nine Dutch DBFM projects

By transferring risks and responsibilities to the private sector, governments hope that public-private partnerships (PPPs) bring about innovations in transport infrastructure development. Taking the position that a PPP is not equal to outsourcing, this article explores the role of the public partner in innovation in infrastructure PPPs. To this purpose, nine Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) projects in Dutch transport infrastructure development were systematically analyzed with qualitative comparative analysis (QCA). The results show that the presence of innovation is associated with multiple, nonexclusive combinations of three conditions: the procurement result of the partnership contract, the composition of the private construction consortium, and the project management by the public partner (i.e., stakeholder management, technical management, and contract management). In particular, the public partner’s choice to enter into a PPP with a construction consortium consisting of a small number of firms is associated with innovation.

Publication | Verweij, S., Loomans, O. & Leendertse, W. (2020). The role of the public partner in innovation in transport infrastructure PPPs: A qualitative comparative analysis of nine Dutch DBFM projects. Public Works Management & Policy, 25 (1), 5-32.

Op zoek naar slimme gezamenlijke investeringskansen voor infrastructuur – Deel 2: Bouwen aan het netwerk van netwerken

Om de kwalitatief goede staat van de Nederlandse infrastructuur te handhaven zijn slimme investeringen noodzakelijk. Dat vraagt inzicht in de omstandigheden waaronder de infrastructuur in de toekomst moet kunnen functioneren – denk aan nieuwe technologische mogelijkheden, veranderende maatschappelijke wensen en onzekere klimatologische factoren. In een eerdere editie (ROm 10, 2019) hebben we al drie mogelijke toekomstscenario’s gepresenteerd. Uniek aan deze scenario’s is dat ze niet gericht zijn op afzonderlijke infrastructuurnetwerken, maar op het niveau van netwerk van netwerken. Nu de overige drie scenario’s. We presenteren ze opnieuw als krantenknipsels uit het jaar 2050.

Publicatie | Neef, M.R., Busscher, T. & Verweij, S. (2019). Op zoek naar slimme gezamenlijke investeringskansen voor infrastructuur – Deel 2: Bouwen aan het netwerk van netwerken. ROmagazine, 37 (12), 39-42.

Op zoek naar slimme gezamenlijke investeringskansen voor infrastructuur: Naar scenario’s voor een netwerk van netwerken

De Nederlandse infrastructuur verkeert in goede staat, maar om dit niveau te handhaven moet worden geïnvesteerd. Zo zijn bruggen, tunnels en viaducten technisch verouderd, wil Nederland van zijn gasinfrastructuur af en tegelijk de energie-infrastructuur vergroenen, vereist het spoor investeringen in wissels, spoorbruggen en beveiligingssystemen, worden luchtvaartnormen strenger maar stijgt de luchtvaartvraag, en zorgt de transformatie van een fossiel naar groener profiel voor uitdagingen van havens. Slim investeren is een must om in deze diverse behoeften te voorzien. Dit artikel, als onderdeel van een tweeluik, laat zien hoe dat kan met drie scenario’s.

Publicatie | Neef, M.R., Verweij, S. & Busscher, T. (2019). Op zoek naar slimme gezamenlijke investeringskansen voor infrastructuur: Naar scenario’s voor een netwerk van netwerken. ROmagazine, 37 (10), 30-34.

Public-private partnerships for infrastructure: Lessons learned from Dutch and Flemish PhD-theses

In recent years, a considerable number of PhD-dissertations have appeared in the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium) on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for the provision of public infrastructures such as transport infrastructure and public buildings. These PhD-theses provide valuable insights into how PPPs perform and especially into the conditions that influence their performance. We identified four clusters of relevant conditions: (1) public procurement procedures, (2) contract management, (3) transaction costs, and (4) democratic legitimacy and accountability. By discussing the theses in this article, their lessons learned become available for the international PPP-community. Our analysis of the PhD-theses shows that there are no definite arguments for or against the use of PPPs. The performance of PPP-arrangements depends on agency: on the skills and commitment of parties involved and on the way in which the arrangements are applied. The dissertations show that policymakers have to find ways to balance the need to reduce transaction costs through contract standardization with the need for tailor-made solutions in specific projects. Furthermore, the dissertations show that ‘soft’ contract management aspects, such as the quality of collaborative behavior and process management, are particularly important for the performance of PPPs. Finally, the theses bring to the fore the democratic issues involved in PPPs, showing their mixed results in terms of legitimacy and accountability.

Publication | Hueskes, M., Koppenjan, J.F.M. & Verweij, S. (2019). Public-private partnerships for infrastructure: Lessons learned from Dutch and Flemish PhD-theses. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, 19 (3), 160-176.

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