, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 195–212 | Cite as

Critical success conditions of collaborative methods: a comparative evaluation of transport planning projects

  • Alexander I. WalterEmail author
  • Roland W. Scholz
Original paper


This paper explores critical success conditions of collaborative planning projects in the area of urban transport, evaluating the impact of new collaborative methods, instruments and processes on project performance. Hypothesis building is based on a comparative, empirical research design, rather than on deductive theory construction. Potential critical success conditions are derived from literature. Based on five urban transport planning projects in Gothenburg (Sweden), London (United Kingdom), Milwaukee (United States), Tokyo (Japan) and Mexico City (Mexico), a rough set analysis of the five cases reveals validated success conditions, which can be used for formulating hypotheses for further research or for policy and process improvement. The results suggest that a dedicated management of the multi-actor network, a high diversity of actors, as well as an extensive use of knowledge integration methods in combination with a high network density are critical success conditions of these planning processes. Surprisingly, the extensive use of unilateral methods also showed to be an important success condition. The traditional role of the planner will have to be complemented with the expertise of network and methodology management. The authors conclude that rough set analysis can be a valuable addition to narrative, single-case analysis of collaborative urban transport planning processes.


Project evaluation Multi-actor planning Participatory planning Rough set analysis Critical success conditions Collaborative planning Knowledge integration 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The research carried out was supported by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF), and the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS). We thank Daniel Lang, Peter Loukopoulus, Arnim Wiek and the three anonymous reviewers for the valuable feedback they gave on a previous version of this paper. A climate ticket from compensated for the CO2 emissions caused by the flights taken to conduct the interviews.


  1. Alexander, E.R.: Doing the ‘impossible’: Notes for a general theory of planning. Environ. Plann. B: Plan. Design 25(5):667–680 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnstein, S.: A ladder of citizen participation. J. Am. Institute Planners 35(4):216–226 (1969)Google Scholar
  3. Baaijens, S., Nijkamp, P.: Meta-analytic methods for comparative and exploratory policy research. J.␣Policy Model. 22(7):821–858 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banister D.: Barriers to implementation of urban sustainability. 36th European congress of the European Regional Science Association: ETH Zurich, Switzerland (1996)Google Scholar
  5. Banister, D.: Sustainable urban development and transport—a Eurovision for 2020. Transport Rev. 20(1):113–130 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banister, D.: Critical pragmatism and congestion charging in London. Int. Social Sci. J. 55(2):249–264 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berechman, J., Paaswell, R.E.: Evaluation, prioritization and selection of transportation investment projects in New York City. Transportation 32(3):223–249 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bickerstaff, K., Walker, G.: Participatory local governance and transport planning. Environ. Plan. A 33(3):431–451 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Booher, D.E., Innes, J.E.: Network power in collaborative planning. J. Plan. Education Res. 21(3):221–236 (2002)Google Scholar
  10. Bots, P.W.G., Lootsma, F.A.: Decision support in the public sector. J. Multi-Criteria Decision Anal. 9(1–3):1–6 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brody, S.D., Highfield, W.E.: Does Planning Work? J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 71(2):159–175 (2005)Google Scholar
  12. Chermack, T.J., van der Merwe, L.: The role of constructivist learning in scenario planning. Futures 35(5):445–460 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Colebatch, H.K.: Organizational meanings of program-evaluation. Policy Sci. 28(2):149–164 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Commission of the European Union (2001) White paper European Transport Policy for 2010: Time to Decide. Commission of the European Union, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  15. Dahl, R.A.: A democratic dilemma. System effectiveness versus citizen participation. Political Sci. Quart. 109(1):23–34 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davidson, F.: Planning for performance: requirements for sustainable development. Habitat Int. 20(3):445–462 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Desfor, G., Jørgensen, J.: Flexible urban governance. The case of Copenhagen’s recent waterfront development. Eur. Plan. Studies 12(4):479–496 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dror, Y.: Strengthening government capacity for policy development. Int. J. Tech. Cooperation 3(1):1–15 (1997)Google Scholar
  19. Eisenhardt, K.M.: Building theories from case study research. Acad. Manage. Rev. 14(4):532–550 (1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Falkemark, G.: Politik, lobbyism och manipulation (Politics, lobbyism and manipulation). Nya Doxa, Stockholm (1999)Google Scholar
  21. Gissendanner, S.: Methodology problems in urban governance studies. Environ. Plan. C 21(5):663–685 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Glass, G., MacGraw, B., Smith M.: Meta-Analysis in Social Research. Sage, Beverly Hills (1994)Google Scholar
  23. Goetz, A.R., Szyliowicz, J.S.: Revisiting transport planning and decision-making theory: the case of Denver International Airport. Transport. Res., Part A 31(4):263–280 (1997)Google Scholar
  24. Greater London Authority (2001) Transport strategy for London. Greater London Authority, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Handy, S.: Smart growth and the transportation - Land use connection: What does the research tell us?. Int. Regional Sci. Rev. 28(2):146–167 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hansmann, R., Mieg, A.H., Scholz, R.W., Crott, H.W.: Shifting Students‘ to Experts‘ complex systems knowledge: Effects of bootstrapping, group discussion, and case study participation. Int. J. Sustainability Higher Education 4(2):151–168 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Healey, P.: Building institutional capacity through collaborative approaches to urban planning. Environ. Plan. A 30(9):1531–1546 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Henson, R., Essex, S.: The development, design and evaluation of sustainable local transport networks. Int. Social Sci. J. 55(176):219–234 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hillier, J.: Going round the back? Complex networks and informal action in local planning processes. Environ. Plan. A 32(1):33–54 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Innes, J.E., Gruber, J.: Planning Styles in Conflict. J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 71(2):177–188 (2005)Google Scholar
  31. Jenster, P.V.: Using critical success factors in planning. Long Range Plan. 20(4):102–109 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kane, L., Del Mistro, R.: Changes in transport planning policy: changes in transport planning methodology?. Transportation 30(2):113–131 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Karlafti,s M.G., McCarthy, P.S.: Subsidy and public transit performance: A factor analytic approach. Transportation 24(3):253–270 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kemp, R., Rotmans, J.: Managing the transition to sustainable mobility. In: Elzen B., Geels, F., Green, K. (eds), System Innovation and the Transition to Sustainability: Theory, Evidence and Policy. Edgar Elgar, Cheltenham (2002)Google Scholar
  35. Langmyhr, T.: The rationality of transport investment packages. Transportation 28(2):157–178 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Laurian, L., Day, M., Berke, P., Ericksen, N., Backhurst, M., Crawford, J., Dixon, J.: Evaluating plan implementation. J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 70(4):471–480 (2004)Google Scholar
  37. Lo, H.K., Wong, S.C.: Recent methodological advances in urban transportation planning. J. Urban Plan. Develop. ASCE 128(4):167–168 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lo, H.K., Wong, S.C.: Emerging techniques for urban transportation planning. J. Urban Plan. Develop. ASCE 130(1):1 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Loukopoulos, P., Scholz, R.W.: Sustainable future urban mobility: using ‘area development negotiations’ for scenario assessment and participatory strategic planning. Environ. Plan. A 36(12):2203–2226 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Low, N., Gleeson, B.: Ecosocialization or countermodernization? Reviewing the shifting ‘Storylines’ of transport planning. Int. J. Urban Regional Res. 25(4):784–803 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mayer, M.: Urban governance in the post-fordist city. In: Healey P (ed), Managing Cities: The New Urban Context. Wiley, London (1995)Google Scholar
  42. Meyer, M.D.: Transport planning for urban areas: A retrospective look and future prospects. J. Adv. Transport. 34(1):143–171 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Milwaukee Economic Development Cooperation.: Annual Report. Milwaukee Economic Development Cooperation, Milwaukee (2001)Google Scholar
  44. Mogalle, M.: Management transdisziplinärer Forschungsprozesse (Management of transdisciplinary research processes). Birkhäuser, Basel (2001)Google Scholar
  45. Molina, L.T., Molina, M.J.: Air Quality in the Mexico Megacity—An Integrated Assessment. Alliance for Global Sustainability Bookseries. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht (2002)Google Scholar
  46. Myers, D., Banerjee, T.: Toward Greater Heights for Planning. J. Am. Plan. Assoc. 71(2):121–131 (2005)Google Scholar
  47. Nijkamp, P., Ouwersloot, H., Rienstra, S.A.: Sustainable urban transport systems: an expert-based strategic scenario approach. Urban Studies 34(4):693–712 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Nijkamp, P., van der Burch, M., Vindigni, G.: A comparative institutional evaluation of public–private partnerships in Dutch urban land-use and revitalisation projects. Urban Studies 39(10):1865–1880 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Noteboom, B.: Learning by interaction. J. Manage. Governance 4(1–2):69–92 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Olkowski, P., Skowron, A.: Rough Set in Knowledge Discovery. Physica-Verlag, Berlin (1998)Google Scholar
  51. Pawlak, Z.: Rough Sets. Kluwer, Dordrecht (1991)Google Scholar
  52. Petts, J.: Evaluating the effectiveness of deliberative processes: waste management case-studies. J.␣Environ. Plan. Manage. 44(2):207–226 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Predki, B., Slowinski, J., Stefanowski, J., Susmaga, R., Wilk, S.: ROSE—software implementation of the rough set theory. In: Polkowski L., Skowron A. (eds), Rough Sets and Current Trends in Computing. Springer, Berlin (1998)Google Scholar
  54. Scholz, R.W., Lang, D., Walter, A.I., Wiek, A., Stauffacher, M.: Transdisciplinary case studies as a means of sustainability learning: historical framework and theory. Int. J. Sustain. Higher Education 7(3):226–251 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Scholz, R.W., Tietje, O.: Embedded case study methods: integrating quantitative and qualitative knowledge. Sage, Thousand Oaks (2002)Google Scholar
  56. Scott, J.: Social Network Analysis: A Handbook. Sage, London (2000)Google Scholar
  57. Stauffacher, M., Walter, A.I., Lang, D., Wiek, A., Scholz, R.W.: Learning to research environmental problems from a functional socio-cultural constructivism perspective: the transdisciplinary case study approach. Int. J. Sustain. Higher Education 7(3):252–275 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Susskind, L., Cruikshank, J.: Consensual Approaches to Resolving Public Disputes. Basic Books, New York (1987)Google Scholar
  59. Szyliowicz, J.S.: Decision-making, intermodal transportation, and sustainable mobility: towards a new paradigm. Int. Social Sci. J. 55(2):185–197 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Talvitie, A.: Comment on Richard Willson’s paper: assessing communicative rationality as a transportation planning paradigm. Transportation 28(2):207–210 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tapio, P., Hietanen, O.: Epistemology and public policy: using a new typology to analyse the paradigm shift in Finnish transport futures studies. Futures 34(7):597–620 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. van der Meer, F.B., Edelenbos, J.: Evaluation in multi-actor policy processes: accountability, learning and cooperation. European Evaluation Society Conference: Seville, October 10–12 (2002)Google Scholar
  63. van Egmond, P., Nijkamp, P., Vindigni, G.: A comparative analysis of the performance of urban public transport systems in Europe. Int. Social Sci. J. 55(2):235–247 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Vigar, G.: Local ‘barriers’ to environmentally sustainable transport planning. Local Environ. 5(1):19–32 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Walter, A.I., Scholz, R.W.: Sustainable innovation networks: an empirical study on inter-organisational networks in industrial ecology. Prog. Industrial Ecol. (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  66. Ward, D.: Stakeholder involvement in transport planning: participation and power. Impact Assess. Project Appraisal 19(2):119–130 (2001)Google Scholar
  67. Wiek, A., Binder, C.: Solution spaces for decision-making—a sustainability assessment tool for city-regions. Environ. Impact Assess. Rev. 25(6):589–608 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Willson, R.: Assessing communicative rationality as a transportation planning paradigm. Transportation 28(1):1–31 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Yarime, M.: Public coordination of participants’ behavior and expectations: an attempt to introduce low-emission vehicles in Tokyo. Shakai-Gijutsu Kenkyu Ronbun-shu (Journal of Science and Technology for Society) 2(1):39–48 (2004)Google Scholar
  70. Yiftachel, O.: Planning and social control: exploring the dark side. J. Plan. Literature 12(4):395–406 (1998)Google Scholar
  71. Yiftachel, O., Huxley, M.: Debating dominance and relevance: notes on the ‘communicative turn’ in planning theory. Int. J. Urban Regional Res. 24(4):907–913 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Yin, R.: Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Sage, Beverly Hills (1984)Google Scholar
  73. Zegras, C., Sussman, J., Conklin, C.: Scenario planning for strategic regional transportation planning. J. Urban Plan. Develop. ASCE 130(1):2–13 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED)ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations