Questions of Governance: Rethinking the Study of Transportation Policy

Greg Marsden, Louise Reardon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper critiques the state of the art approaches to studying transportation policy. It does so through analysing 100 papers sampled from the two leading policy journals in the transportation literature. On applying two different frameworks for understanding policy, the review finds that only 13% of papers consider specific aspects of the policy cycle, that 60% focus on ‘tools’ for policy, and that two-thirds of papers did not engage with real-world policy examples or policy makers and focussed on quantitative analysis alone.

We argue that these findings highlight the persistence of the technical-rational model within the transportation literature. This model, and the numerous traditions and disciplines that have fed into it have an important role to play in developing the transportation evidence base. However, we argue there are important questions of governance; such as context, power, resources and legitimacy, that are largely being ignored in the literature as it stands. The substantial lack of engagement with governance issues and debates means that as a field we are artificially, but more importantly, disproportionately generating a science of applied policy making which is unlikely to be utilised because of the distance between it and the realities on the ground. The paper identifies analytical approaches deployed readily in other fields that could be used to address some of the key deficiencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-251
JournalTransportation Research. Part A: Policy & Practice: an international journal
Early online date26 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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