Analyzing the influence of ‘knowledge technologies’ in transport planning

Henrik Gudmundsson (Invited author)

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearch


    Transport models belong to a wider family of Decision Support input or ‘knowledge technologies’ applied in the transport area, possibly the most developed ones in the family, but still often controversial and disputed. There are numerous examples of direct instrumental model applications, but models also share with other knowledge technologies the fate of being sometimes used politically, rather than analytically, perhaps even distortively rather than supportively, or not being used at all. The ‘actual’ influence that transport models and other tools exert over planning processes and outcomes is sometimes contrasted to ideal or intended functions, but arguably, this relation is less often studied dispassionately than debated heatedly. The topics to be discussed here concern conceptual and methodological aspects of such studies. The paper will seek to develop an overall analytical scheme for how to characterize and analyze the use and influence of ‘knowledge technologies’ in the transport sector. The paper is not primarily about models per se or particular model applications, but will try to situate simulation models in a wider ‘use and influence’ landscape of transport planning knowledge technologies together with others ones such as evaluation and assessment methods, indicators and performance monitoring, and ‘expert advice’. Are some technology applications more prone to non-use than others? Is transport ‘different’’ with regard to use/non-use of knowledge technologies that other sectors? The aim of the paper is thus to seek is to systematize previous research on ‘knowledge use’, discuss its applicability to context of transport policy and planning technologies, and critically reflect on ways to research the use and influence ‘pathways’ of knowledge technologies - such as models - in this sector. • One element in the paper will be to review typologies of actual ‘knowledge technology’ use and influence pathways generally, in order to identify critical factors for policy influence, including properties of the content of the technologies (like ‘conceptual’, ‘operational’, ‘communicative’, and ‘institutional’ aspects) ,as well as properties of the context of their application (like ‘Measurability’, ‘Standardizability’, and ‘Political Sensitivity’ of the policy tasks). This step will be based on works of knowledge utilization and evaluation scholars such as Weiss; Innes, Sabatier; Rich, Henry & Mark, Jäger, Pollitt, Hoppe; Cash et al. and others. Another step is to review existing typologies of ‘transport knowledge technologies’, as reported in previous work by transport policy analysis scholars (like Parsons, Giorgi & Tandon, May et al, Fischer, Mackie & Nellthorp, Talvitie, and others). This review will discuss to what extent key dimensions used in such typologies (like ex ‘ante/ex post’; ‘strategic, tactical, operational’) are helpful to classify the technologies according to actual use and influence concerns discussed in the first typology. Combining the two typologies will allow formulation of tentative propositions concerning critical influence factors of particular types of transport knowledge technologies. The propositions will be discussed briefly in the context of cases of actual transport ‘decision support’ use, analyzed in the context of the TransportMistra/Impact research project (funded by the MISTRA foundation in Sweden, 2006-2008). The cases include, inter alia, the use of simulation modeling results for the preparation of a Congestion Charging trial in Stockholm up to 2006, and performance indicators used in national transport strategies in the UK. The discussion will also draw on research on the actual use and influence pathways for policy indicatrs as addressed in the ongoing EU FP7 research project ‘POINT’ (‘POlicy influence of INdicaTors) (2008-2010). The overall contribution to be made by the paper is a presentation and discussion of key terminologies to conceptualize, analyze and study the real use and influence of simulation models and other ‘knowledge technologies’ in transport planning and decision making, and to discuss methodological challenges for the research application of such terminologies and concepts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2009
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    EventTransport Knowledge and Planning Practice: Linking Academia and Practice in a 3-day Seminar - Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: 1 Jan 20091 Jan 2009


    SeminarTransport Knowledge and Planning Practice: Linking Academia and Practice in a 3-day Seminar
    OtherNo exact date found but held in 2009.


    • Transport models


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