Dissertation August 26 – Government’s Role for Transport Infrastructure


On Monday August 26 2013 at 9.00 a.m. in Lecture Room F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26 I will present and defend my thesis: ”Government’s Role fore Tranport Infrastructure – Theoretical Approaches and Historical Development”.

Professor Mark Pennington, King’s College, London is opponent in the dissertation.

The PhD-thesis discusses the theoretical economic and planning paradigms that have been influentail since the 19th century in shaping the balance between government and private sector responsibility for transport infrastructure systems.

The growth of the government’s role, the nationalization of roads and railroads in the 1930s and the subsequent shaping of the government’s policies in the area are described and analyzed. A speciific analysis is presented focusing on the financing issues connected to transport infrastructure; should marginal costs or full costs be charged for the use of these systems, and which of the two models might render the most efficient overall organizational solution and resource allocation in the economy.

Another theme is how strategic transport infrastructure planning can come about; either through spontaneous ordering and markets or through government planning. Examples from the current development in the US and the EU are brought into the analysis to exemplify the two models. It is argued that centralized government planning will generally fail wile decentralized market models have merits generally ignored in transport planning and policy.

Technology, economics and politics are three important factors influencing the development of the transport systems and of the government’s role. In the thesis these factors are covered in a co-evolutionary approach applied for analysis of the historical development. This approach connects to a dynamic view on organizations and firms in institutional theory.

The thesis illustrates a number of trade-offs that must be taken into consideration when discussing a possible future development for transport infrastructure and the government’s role. The following aspects are discussed:

– the balance between public and private as the basic organizing principle;

– the balance between government and regions/local governments when it comes to

– the geographical division of responsibility; and

– the balance between the national and EU levels for strategic transport infrastructure planning and coordination, also in relation to spontaneous coordination and centralized planning.

The government has acted reluctantly and pragmatically and gradually developed its ownership role and the general policies in the sector. The government’s emphasis on market failure as its basic assumption has become stronger over time.

The thesis brings a deepened understanding of the long-term development of the government’s ownership and policy formation in the transport infrastructure sector in relation to the two theoretical paradigms. This combination of a historical view with the theoretical economic background gives new insights into the past and future of the government’s role for transport infrastructure.

Here is a link to the dissertation-information: http://kth.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?searchId=1&pid=diva2:628222

Copies can also be ordered via e-mail: bjorn.hasselgren@abe.kth.se