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Planners’ analysis and opportunism – benefit analysis in the Swedish HSR-project : a preliminary analysis

Ronnle, Erik LU (2017) In European Planning Studies 25(12). p.2232-2249
Abstract

The dominating form of analysis in the transport sector is cost–benefit analysis (CBA). This study investigates the purpose and use of an alternative analysis intended to complement CBA in the Swedish high-speed rail project. According to CBA calculations, the project is heavily unprofitable. While some politicians called for project termination, the project leadership launched an alternative benefit analysis that calculated only benefits (disregarding costs). This was intended to be a basis for decision making on station localization and financing agreements, but it was quickly downplayed due to its methodological inconsistencies. However, the project leadership still used the identified benefits opportunistically as a counterweight to... (More)

The dominating form of analysis in the transport sector is cost–benefit analysis (CBA). This study investigates the purpose and use of an alternative analysis intended to complement CBA in the Swedish high-speed rail project. According to CBA calculations, the project is heavily unprofitable. While some politicians called for project termination, the project leadership launched an alternative benefit analysis that calculated only benefits (disregarding costs). This was intended to be a basis for decision making on station localization and financing agreements, but it was quickly downplayed due to its methodological inconsistencies. However, the project leadership still used the identified benefits opportunistically as a counterweight to the negative CBA results. They also engaged local-level civil servants and politicians in making the reports. This built political momentum and made the local-level civil servants and politicians adopt the mindset of the project. This study shows how a methodologically flawed analysis is used for political manoeuvring. From a scientific CBA perspective, this is alarming, but from a political perspective it is not surprising. The findings echo earlier research showing that analysis for decision making is often used for political purposes. The results suggest that future research should consider how opportunism in alternative benefit analysis can be limited.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
benefit analysis, decision making, mega-projects, planning, transport
in
European Planning Studies
volume
25
issue
12
pages
18 pages
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • scopus:85026215454
  • wos:000413853800007
ISSN
0965-4313
DOI
10.1080/09654313.2017.1355354
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8d1ea3ba-d350-4f66-91b7-e705d0f5b6a4
date added to LUP
2017-08-04 10:32:13
date last changed
2018-01-16 13:22:23
@article{8d1ea3ba-d350-4f66-91b7-e705d0f5b6a4,
  abstract     = {<p>The dominating form of analysis in the transport sector is cost–benefit analysis (CBA). This study investigates the purpose and use of an alternative analysis intended to complement CBA in the Swedish high-speed rail project. According to CBA calculations, the project is heavily unprofitable. While some politicians called for project termination, the project leadership launched an alternative benefit analysis that calculated only benefits (disregarding costs). This was intended to be a basis for decision making on station localization and financing agreements, but it was quickly downplayed due to its methodological inconsistencies. However, the project leadership still used the identified benefits opportunistically as a counterweight to the negative CBA results. They also engaged local-level civil servants and politicians in making the reports. This built political momentum and made the local-level civil servants and politicians adopt the mindset of the project. This study shows how a methodologically flawed analysis is used for political manoeuvring. From a scientific CBA perspective, this is alarming, but from a political perspective it is not surprising. The findings echo earlier research showing that analysis for decision making is often used for political purposes. The results suggest that future research should consider how opportunism in alternative benefit analysis can be limited.</p>},
  author       = {Ronnle, Erik},
  issn         = {0965-4313},
  keyword      = {benefit analysis,decision making,mega-projects,planning,transport},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {12},
  pages        = {2232--2249},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {European Planning Studies},
  title        = {Planners’ analysis and opportunism – benefit analysis in the Swedish HSR-project : a preliminary analysis},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09654313.2017.1355354},
  volume       = {25},
  year         = {2017},
}