The Evaluation Of Complex Infrastructure Projects: A Guide To Qualitative Comparative Analysis

Our book is now available at Edward Elgar! The book can be ordered at the website of Edward Elgar (here) with a promotional discount of 35% using the code “VIP35” (valid in July 2018).

Infrastructure projects are notoriously hard to manage so it is important that society learns from the successes and mistakes made over time. However, most evaluation methods run into a conundrum: either they cover a large number of projects but have little to say about their details, or they focus on detailed single-case studies with little in terms of applicability elsewhere. This book presents Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) as an alternative evaluation method that solves the conundrum to enhance learning.

“Disentangling within-case complexity is a challenging task; even more so if one examines multiple cases. Gerrits and Verweij brilliantly demonstrate, using the latest conceptual and technical innovations, and through the concrete example of infrastructure projects, that QCA can produce qualitative leaps in taking on this challenge. This book is a must-read for researchers, evaluators, and practitioners who take both complexity and comparison seriously.” – Prof. Dr. Benoît Rihoux, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Publication | Gerrits, L.M. & Verweij, S. (2018). The evaluation of complex infrastructure projects: A guide to qualitative comparative analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Voorbij De Dichotomie: Op Zoek Naar Een Succesvolle Combinatie Van Contractuele Aspecten En Relationele Aspecten In Publiek-Private Samenwerking

Het contract vormt een belangrijke basis in de samenwerking tussen overheid en markt. Een belangrijk kenmerk van Publiek-Private Samenwerking (PPS) is ook dat het gaat om een juridisch gestructureerd samenwerkingsverband. PPS valt echter niet te reduceren tot contractuele aspecten alleen. Succesvolle PPS behelst meer dan een contractuele relatie tussen publieke en private partijen. Naast contractuele aspecten zijn relationele aspecten in PPS evenzeer belangrijk. Het uitgangspunt in dit hoofdstuk is dat succesvolle PPS vooral afhangt van hoe contractuele en relationele aspecten worden gecombineerd. PPS-onderzoekers hebben wat dat betreft reeds gewezen op het belang van het vinden van een ‘balans’ tussen de contractuele en de relationele aspecten van PPS. Bestaand onderzoek richt zich echter vaak op de dichotome vraag of het nu de contractuele aspecten of de relationele aspecten zijn die er echt toe doen. Deze dichotome vraagstelling maakt het lastig om inzicht te krijgen in hoe de aspecten precies zouden moeten worden gecombineerd. Met andere woorden: hoe ziet die balans tussen contractuele en relationele aspecten er precies uit? Daar is dan ook nog veel onderzoekswerk naar te verrichten, naar welke combinaties van contractuele en relationele aspecten resulteren in succesvolle PPS. Het kernargument in dit hoofdstuk is dat succesvolle PPS vraagt om een combinatie van de aspecten en dat dit vraagt om een onderzoeksperspectief dat inzicht kan bieden in welke combinaties succesvol zijn.

Publicatie | Verweij, S. (2018). Voorbij de dichotomie: Op zoek naar een succesvolle combinatie van contractuele aspecten en relationele aspecten in publiek-private samenwerking. In: M. Sanders (red), Publiek-Private Samenwerking: Kunst van het Evenwicht (pp. 91-106). Den Haag: Boom Bestuurskunde.

Kwaliteitsdoelstelling Ruimte Voor De Rivier Geanalyseerd: De Ontwerper Als Spil In Het Gebiedsproces

Na tien jaar nadert het programma Ruimte voor de Rivier de eindstreep. De resultaten zijn ernaar: het rivierengebied is zeker veiliger gemaakt voor de gevolgen van de klimaatverandering. Onderzoekers van de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen analyseerden wat er terecht is gekomen van de tweede belangrijke doelstelling van het programma: het versterken van de ruimtelijke kwaliteit in het rivierengebied. En welke strategieën er zijn toegepast om dat te bereiken. Denk hierbij aan de project-gedreven strategie, de programma-als-achtervang-strategie en de all-in strategie.

Publicatie | Verweij, S., Van den Brink, M.A, Bouwman, R. & Busscher, T. (2017). Kwaliteitsdoelstelling Ruimte voor de Rivier geanalyseerd: De ontwerper als spil in het gebiedsproces. ROmagazine, 35 (12), 12-17.

Conditions For Addressing Environmental Determinants Of Health Behavior In Intersectoral Policy Networks: A Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis

Improving health requires changes in the social, physical, economic, and political determinants of health behavior. For the realization of policies that address these environmental determinants, intersectoral policy networks are considered necessary for the pooling of resources to implement different policy instruments. However, such network diversity may increase network complexity and therefore hamper network performance. Network complexity may be reduced by network management and the provision of financial resources. This study examined whether network diversity – amidst the other conditions – is indeed needed to address environmental determinants of health behavior. We included 25 intersectoral policy networks in Dutch municipalities aimed at reducing overweight, smoking, and alcohol/drugs abuse. For our fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis we used data from three web-based surveys among (a) project leaders regarding network diversity and size (n = 38); (b) project leaders and project partners regarding management (n = 278); and (c) implementation professionals regarding types of environmental determinants addressed (n = 137). Data on budgets were retrieved from project application forms. Contrary to their intentions, most policy networks typically addressed personal determinants. If the environment was addressed too, it was mostly the social environment. To address environmental determinants of health behavior, network diversity (>50% of the actors are non-public health) was necessary in networks that were either small (<16 actors) or had small budgets (<€183,172), when both were intensively managed. Irrespective of network diversity, environmental determinants also were addressed by small networks with large budgets, and by large networks with small budgets, when both provided network management. We conclude that network diversity is important – although not necessary – for resource pooling to address environmental determinants of health behavior, but only effective in the presence of network management. Our findings may support intersectoral policy networks in improving health behaviors by addressing a variety of environmental determinants.

Publication | Peters, D.T.J.M., Verweij, S., Grêaux, K., Stronks, K. & Harting, J. (2017). Conditions for addressing environmental determinants of health behavior in intersectional policy networks: A fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 195, 34-41.

Research Grant Awarded: Responsive Infrastructure Through Responsive Institutions (RITRI)

Update: We are Hiring!

The vacancy for a PhD Student at the University of Groningen, to be working in the research project, has now appeared online. The vacancy can be found here.

Research Grant Awarded

Last week, we received the great news that our research proposal Responsive Infrastructure Through Responsive Institutions (RITRI) will be awarded a €500,000 grant from NWO, in cooperation with Next Generation Infrastructures. The project has been granted to, and will be led by, Dr. Andreas Hartmann (University of Twente), Dr. Tim Busscher (University of Groningen) and myself. Two PhD-students will be hired on the project. One will be based at the University of Twente and one will be based at the University of Groningen. Together with Tim Busscher, I will supervise the PhD-student in Groningen.

Summary of the Research Proposal

Infrastructure administrators have been confronted with considerable investment needs in their infrastructure networks that mainly stem from an increased demand encountering an aged and deteriorated infrastructure stock. Since these investment needs can overlap in time and geographically, they can become cross-sectoral investment opportunities for increasing the responsiveness of the infrastructure system as a whole. However, for investment opportunities to be seized, infrastructure administrators have to be able to align their individual decision-making processes: the institutional system has to be responsive as well. The research project “Responsive Infrastructure through Responsive Institutions (RITRI)” addresses this challenge. It is guided by the following research question:

What are investment opportunities to make infrastructure systems responsive now and in the future, and what institutional rules need to be adapted so that these investment opportunities can be seized?

In order to answer the question, the research adopts an engaged scholarship approach bringing together in-depth scientific and practical knowledge on infrastructure planning and management and institutional analysis and design. It deploys multiple methods including scenario building, institutional analysis, stress-testing, and serious gaming to gain insights into the infrastructural opportunities and institutional requirements for increasing infrastructure responsiveness. By introducing responsiveness as the capability of a system to anticipate and shape future societal and technological changes, the research is particularly interested in how infrastructure administrators can play a more constitutive role in change trajectories. With its focus on cross-sectoral decision-making, the research also studies how infrastructure administrators can take up such a role in a joint manner.

The research will be conducted in close cooperation with the following infrastructure administrators: Alliander, the Port of RotterdamRijkswaterstaat, ProRail, and Schiphol.

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