Three strategies to track configurations over time with qualitative comparative analysis

Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) – a configurational research approach – has become often-used in political science. In its original form, QCA is relatively static and does not analyze configurations over time. Since many key questions in political science – and other social sciences – have a temporal dimension, this is a major drawback of QCA. Therefore, we discuss and compare three QCA-related strategies that enable researchers to track configurations over time: (1) Multiple Time Periods, Single QCA; (2) Multiple QCAs, Different Time Periods; and (3) Fuzzy-Set Ideal Type Analysis. We use existing datasets to empirically demonstrate and visualize the strategies. By comparing the strategies, we also contribute to existing overviews on how to address time in QCA. We conclude by formulating an agenda for the further development of the three strategies in applied research, in political science and beyond.

Publication | Verweij, S. & Vis, B. (2021). Three strategies to track configurations over time with qualitative comparative analysis. European Political Science Review, 13 (1), 95-111.

Effective policy instruments mixes for implementing integrated flood risk management: An analysis of the Room for the River program

Central to integrated flood risk management is the integration of water management with spatial planning. Existing studies often focus on analyzing the policy instruments in the initiation and planning phases of integrated flood risk management. Little is known, however, about the policy instrument mixes that enable implementation of integrated flood risk management. Therefore, in this article we analyze the Dutch Room for the River program to identify what mixes of policy instruments enable successful integrated flood risk management in the implementation phase. We collected archival and survey data and analyzed 19 implemented projects in the Room for the River program applying Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). We conclude that no single policy instrument is necessary or sufficient for successful implementation. We found three policy instrument mixes: an integrated contract mix, a project management mix, and an outside-government mix.

Publication | Verweij, S., Busscher, T. & Van den Brink, M. (2021). Effective policy instruments mixes for implementing integrated flood risk management: An analysis of the Room for the River program. Environmental Science & Policy, 116, 204-212.

A common ground? Constructing and exploring scenarios for infrastructure network-of-networks

Contemporary infrastructure networks require large investments especially due to aging. Investment opportunities of network-of-networks are often obscured because current scenarios often concern single infrastructure networks. Major barriers to the construction and use of network-of-networks scenarios are institutional fragmentation and the disconnection of scenario-development phases. This paper aims to construct and enhance the use of network-of-networks scenarios through a participatory scenario process. We employed a hybrid-method approach comprising document analysis, Disaggregative Policy Delphi, and a futures-oriented workshop for five large national infrastructure administrations in the Netherlands. This approach yielded twelve key infrastructure developments for which 28 infrastructure experts provided future estimates. We constructed seven scenarios through cluster analysis of experts’ quantitative estimates, qualitative direct content analysis of the qualitative data, and a futures table. The scenarios are: Infraconomy; Techno-Pessimism; Safety; Technological; Missed Boat; Hyperloop; and Green. Our results stress the importance of collaboration: desired scenarios are improbable when infrastructure administrations maintain their current sectoral perspective, whereas an inter-sectoral perspective may generate more investment opportunities. However, these network-of-networks investment opportunities do not simply emerge from network-of-networks scenarios; reasons include administrators’ prevailing conception that sufficient optimization capacity remains within their own networks, and that no common ground exists that helps to overcome institutional fragmentation.

Publication | Neef, M.R., Verweij, S., Busscher, T. & Arts, E.J.M.M. (2020). A common ground? Constructing and exploring scenarios for infrastructure network-of-networks. Futures, 124, 102649.

Do public-private partnerships perform better? A comparative analysis of costs for additional work and reasons for contract changes in Dutch transport infrastructure projects

An important reason to procure transport infrastructure projects through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) is that they are expected to have a better cost performance compared to regular infrastructure procurement. However, the evidence for this is weak. Therefore, this article analyzes the cost performance (in terms of costs for additional work caused by contract changes during project implementation) of Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) projects versus Design and Construct (D&C) projects. DBFM is considered a type of PPP and D&C is not. Data were collected on 58 projects from the Project Database of Rijkswaterstaat and analyzed using non-parametric tests. The results show that DBFM-projects have a significantly better cost performance than D&C-projects, especially concerning costs for additional work due to technical necessities. Because scope adjustments are the main reason for contract changes across the D&C- and DBFM-projects, cost performance can be improved particularly by curbing scope adjustments costs.

Publication | Verweij, S. & Van Meerkerk, I.F. (2020). Do public-private partnerships perform better? A comparative analysis of costs for additional work and reasons for contract changes in Dutch transport infrastructure projects. Transport Policy, 99, 430-438.

Het prestatievoordeel van publiek-private samenwerking: Een analyse van transportinfrastructuurprojecten in Nederland

Compared to regular contracts, infrastructure development and management through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) is expected to lead to better cost and time performance. However, the evidence for this performance advantage of PPPs is lacking. This article analyzes the performance differences of projects with a Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) contract (a type of PPP) and a Design-and-Construct (D&C) contract. Project performance data were collected (N=65) from the Project Database of Rijkswaterstaat and analyzed using non-parametric tests. Rijkswaterstaat is the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The results show that DBFM-projects have a significantly higher cost performance than D&C-projects. In particular, DBFM-projects have less additional costs related to technical necessities in the implementation phase. Regarding time performance, DBFM-projects seem to perform better although the difference with D&C-projects is not statistically significant. The article discusses explanations for the performance advantage of PPPs, rooted in principal-agent theory. From this discussion, an agenda is presented for further research into the performance advantage of Public-Private Partnerships.

Publicatie | Verweij, S., Van Meerkerk, I.F. & Leendertse, W. (2020). Het prestatievoordeel van publiek-private samenwerking: Een analyse van transport infrastructuurprojecten in Nederland. Beleid en Maatschappij, 47 (3), 269-289.

Qualitative comparative analysis for analyzing spatial planning processes

Using a complexity lens has not gained widespread attention for explaining why certain planning processes succeed and others fail. This chapter responds by proposing Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) as a method for analyzing the performance of spatial planning processes, taking into account the perceived complexity of the contextual environments encountered. This proposal is rooted in a contingency perspective. Contingency perspectives assume that, for spatial planning approaches and organizational formats to perform well, they should be adapted to the environment in which they intend to operate; i.e., a degree of ‘fit’ is required. The perceived complexity of the contextual environments is among the key arguments contingency studies propose as informing fit. QCA follows this argument, but also responds to some of its main critiques. First, QCA can help avoid a deterministic perspective on complexity informing fit, as it assumes complexity as being conceptualized by stakeholders involved in the planning process. Second, QCA can help overcome a reductionist perspective and its simplistic reliance on a pairwise analysis of relations between isolated environmental variables and isolated organizational or decision-making variables. QCA approaches ‘fit’ from a more holistic perspective, by analyzing the performance of spatial planning processes as configurations of alternative spatial planning approaches, organizational forms, and contextual environments. The result is an understanding of ‘fit’ following what QCA considers ‘complex causality’, which is manifested in configurations of various interacting and interdependent conditions. Next to being able to analyze relationships between the performance of spatial planning processes and the perceived complexity of the contextual environment, by using the notion of ‘complex causality’ QCA also allows for analyzing spatial planning processes as complex adaptive systems.

Publication | Verweij, S. & Zuidema, C. (2020). Qualitative comparative analysis for analyzing spatial planning processes. In: G. de Roo, C. Zuidema & C. Yamu (eds), Handbook on Planning and Complexity (pp. 334-352). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Evaluatie 15 jaar DBFM-contracten bij infrastructuurprojecten Rijkswaterstaat

In opdracht van Bouwend Nederland en Rijkswaterstaat hebben we een evaluatieonderzoek uitgevoerd naar publiek-private samenwerking bij het Rijk. De focus lag op het in kaart brengen van de ervaringen en resultaten van 15 jaar Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM) bij Rijkswaterstaat en het formuleren van aanbevelingen voor de toekomst. Specifiek is gekeken naar de opvattingen over de mate waarin aan de verwachtingen van DBFM – en dan met name de F-component – is voldaan en naar de factoren en mechanismen die daarbij een rol spelen. Het onderzoek is onlangs afgerond en heeft geresulteerd in meerdere onderzoeksrapporten. Ik heb aan twee rapporten meegewerkt:

  • De performance van DBFM bij Rijkswaterstaat: Een kwantitatieve analyse van projectendata. Dit is een deelrapportage.
  • Leren van 15 jaar DBFM-projecten bij RWS: Eindrapport. Dit is het hoofdrapport.

Het onderzoeksproject was een samenwerking tussen het Departement Bestuurskunde en Sociologie van de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam en de Afdeling Planologie van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. De onderzoeksrapporten zijn hier beschikbaar.

Public-private partnerships for infrastructure development: Finance, stakeholder alignment, governance

For various and well-documented reasons, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are popular governance models for delivering transport infrastructure projects and services. The last decades, we have seen a proliferation of scholarly research into PPPs. We know from this literature that there is a huge variegation of definitions and manifestations of PPPs and experiences with PPPs, and that the performance of PPPs has over the years remained mixed and contested. To learn how the performance of PPPs can be improved, the comparison of different PPP models and experiences from different countries is an important way forward. Comprehensive efforts to that aim are much needed. The edited volume Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Development: Finance, Stakeholder Alignment, Governance, edited by R.E. Levitt et al. (2019), offers various valuable contributions to that agenda. In this book review, I have discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

Publication | Verweij, S. (2020). Public-private partnerships for infrastructure development: Finance, stakeholder alignment, governance. Public Works Management & Policy, 25 (3), 333-336.

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.

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