If planning is everything, maybe it's nothing


Where planning does not measure up to expectations, which is almost everywhere, planners are handy targets. They have been too ambitious or they have not been ambitious enough. They have perverted their calling by entering into politics or they have been insensitive to the political dimensions of their task. They ignore national cultural mores at their peril or they capitulate to blind forces of irrationality. They pay too much attention to the relationship between one sector of the economy and another while ignoring analysis of individual projects, or they spend so much time on specific matters that they are unable to deal with movements of the economy as a whole. Planners can no longer define a role for themselves. From old American cities to British new towns, from the richest countries to the poorest, planners have difficulty in explaining who they are and what they should be expected to do. If they are supposed to doctor sick societies, the patient never seems to get well. Why can't the planners ever seem to do the right thing?

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Wildavsky, A. If planning is everything, maybe it's nothing. Policy Sci 4, 127–153 (1973). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01405729

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  • Economic Policy
  • Rich Country
  • American City
  • Individual Project
  • Specific Matter