Networked authority and regionalised governance: Public transport, a hierarchy of documents and the anti-hierarchy of authorship
Alexander Paulsson, Karolina Isaksson
This paper is concerned with the authority of written documents and how these artefacts work as governance devices. Networked authority is introduced as a concept to elucidate how documents accumulate formal power in a collaborative process, where several formally independent but informally interdependent organisations together point out the direction of regional public transport planning in the form of one strategic document. Drawing upon recent research on bureaucracy, authority and documents, the paper empirically explores these connections in the context of public transport in Stockholm, Sweden. Based on this case study, authority was found to be accomplished as the written document reproduced an existing hierarchy of documents, through an anti-hierarchical process where the newly formed Regional Public Transport Authority involved several formally independent but informally interdependent organisations, and by lacking a sole author. These three features are crucial for understanding how a collaborative process erodes individuality and personal responsibility, while producing anonymous, networked authority. These results are discussed in relationship to Foucault’s notion of authorship, the author-function, which is derived from legal–institutional networks, much like networked authority. Understanding how networked authority is accomplished through a hierarchy of documents and an anti-hierarchy of authorship contributes with new knowledge on documents and how these work as governance devices in regional governance.
A typology of inter-organisational coordination in public transport: The case of timetable planning in Denmark
Hedegaard Sørensen. Research in Transportation Economics. Available online 6 July 2018
State, regional, and municipal authorities, public transport authorities, and traffic operators at many levels are essential actors in public transport. This paper presents a typology of four coordination mechanisms relevant to interactions among public transport actors. These four mechanisms, i.e. ownership/instruction, contracts, partnerships, and mutual understanding, are all based on basic coordination mechanisms of markets, hierarchies, and networks. A case of timetable planning is examined, because inter-organisational coordination between actors is crucial in this field, and the usefulness of the typology is illustrated via three examples. The results stem from a Danish study of institutional constraints on timetable optimisation in inter-organisational relations. The empirical focus is eastern Denmark, including Greater Copenhagen.
Collaboration in public transport planning – Why, how and what?
Paulsson, Isaksson, Hedegaard Sørensen, Hrelja, Rye, Scholten. Research in Transportation Economics. Available online 8 July 2018.
This paper is about collaboration in public transport governance. Drawing upon the emerging literature that views collaboration through the lens of networks, we explore why and how regional public transport authorities collaborate with both municipalities and public transport operators in the planning of public transport. We also explore the advantages and disadvantages of such collaborations. Based on interviews with civil servants (government officers) in the Swedish metropolitan regions of Stockholm, Västra Götaland and Scania, we conclude that collaboration is, firstly, a way for the regional public transport authorities (RPTA) to engage with the local municipalities and develop joint agreements on public transport priorities. It is also a way to build a common identity with the public transport operators, who operate services under tendered contracts. Secondly, we find that collaboration takes place during official meetings, as well as in informal conversations and face-to-face dialogues. Thirdly, the potential advantages and disadvantages of collaboration hinge on the ability of coordinating actors to put in place processes where the feasibility of plans can be established, and where a sense of common identity can be constructed.
Partnerships between operators and public transport authorities
Hrelja, R., Rye, T. & Mullen, C. (2018). Partnerships between operators and public transport authorities. Working practices in relational contracting and collaborative partnerships. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 116, 327–338,
Recent research on public transport has seen increasing focus on issues like coordination, collaboration and steering in complex governance settings. One of the themes in this field of research is related to partnership approaches, as one way of stimulating functioning collaboration between formally independent private and public organisations. The aim of this paper is to explore the role and function of partnerships as a way of supporting well-functioning public transport networks and services in fragmented institutional settings. The empirical focus is on partnerships between operators and public (transport) authorities in two different legal settings: England and Sweden. The analysis is based on interviews with operators and public transport authorities in two metropolitan regions in each country where innovative partnership working has been developed to deal with various types of barriers to delivering better public transport. The results show the key qualities of these partnerships that are required for them to function. Although the regulatory contexts are very different, the partnership qualities are very similar in both cases.
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.
Making the sustainable more sustainable: public transport and the collaborative spaces of policy translation
Alexander Paulsson, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, Pages 1-15 | Received 27 May 2017, Accepted 19 Jan 2018, Published online: 30 Jan 2018
This paper investigates where and how sustainable transport goals are translated into public transport planning and operations. The case where this is explored is the Regional Public Transport Authority (RPTA) in Stockholm, Sweden. By drawing upon recent discussions on policy translation and political–administrative relationships, sustainable transport is found to be translated in two different collaborative spaces in the RTPA. In the market side of the authority, which is mainly preoccupied with procurement of traffic and compliance issues, sustainable transport is translated into quantitative goals (including biofuels, emissions, noise, etc.) and mechanically reproduced from the politicians via the civil servants to the private operators. In the planning side of the authority, sustainability measurements have been hard to quantify and the challenge to integrate land-use and transport planning is resolved in an organic manner, in specific projects, between the strategic transport planners in the RPTA and the land-use planners in the municipalities, at a distance from the politicians’ involvement. Throughout the RPTA, sustainable transport has broadened to also include social sustainability, although this has been difficult to translate into quantitative measurements, which is the desired mode of governance by the politicians.