The relationship between formal and informal institutions for governance of public transport

Rye, T., Monios, J., Hrelja, R. & Isaksson, K. (2018). The relationship between formal and informal institutions for governance of public transport. Journal of Transport Geography, 69, 196–206
The purpose of this paper is to understand the relationship between the formal (governance established in law) and informal institutions (governance not established in law) that underpin the planning, operation and improvement of local and regional public transport, by using case studies of four countries: Britain (more specifically England, outside London); the Netherlands; Germany; and Sweden. The paper uses a framework drawn from the literature on institutional change to analyse the interplay between the formal governance structures and the other actors and organisations that have an influence on public transport, the formal and informal relationships between them, and how informal institutions emerge to increase the effectiveness with which public transport is delivered. By selecting countries with some similarities in institutional structure, it is possible to explore how relationships can differ even within a relatively similar overall framework for public transport. Drawing on qualitative research with actors in the different countries, the research explores how informal institutions help actors negotiate the constraints of formal, statutory institutions. Findings reveal that informal institutions smooth the critical interfaces where formal institutions were producing sub-optimal public transport, thus providing evidence that the two modes of governance are, in fact, highly complementary.

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