Policy and Planning for Large-Infrastructure Projects: Problems, Causes, and Curses
Thomas L. Harper, Michael Hibbard, Heloisa Costa, and Anthony Gar-On Yeh, eds., Dialogues in Urban Regional Planning, vol. 4, New York: Routledge, pp. 223-248
35 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2013 Last revised: 21 Apr 2016
Date Written: January 1, 2011
This chapter focuses on problems and their causes and cures in policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects. First, it identifies as the main problem in major infrastructure developments pervasive misinformation about the costs, benefits, and risks involved. A consequence of misinformation is cost overruns, benefit shortfalls, and waste. Second, it explores the causes of misinformation and finds that political-economic explanations best account for the available evidence: planners and promoters deliberately misrepresent costs, benefits, and risks in order to increase the likelihood that their projects, and not those of their competition, that gain approval and funding. This results in the ‘survival of the unfittest’, in which often it is not the best projects that are built, but the most misrepresented ones. Finally, it presents measures for reforming policy and planning for large-infrastructure projects with a focus on better planning methods and changed governance structures, the latter being more important.
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