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Learning to build strategic capacity for transportation policy change

an interdisciplinary exploration

· Output,policy,research project,cyclewalk,knowledge transfer

Realising policy solutions needed to achieve ‘sustainable mobility’ is difficult because, for one, they require a strategic capacity for “coordinated action” across multiple actors and organizations. Policy learning and policy transfer have been discussed for decades as a way for policy makers to acquire capacity to effect change. However, the process linking policy learning and transfer to the building of strategic capacity remains a black box. One possible reason for this gap is how learning is conceptualised and measured in contemporary transport policy studies. We turn to conceptual and empirical knowledge from education, organizational development, human resources, environmental sciences, and business strategy and management to expand our understanding of learning processes for strategic capacity building. The purpose of this paper is to tease out relevant implications for transportation planning by (1) building a theoretical and empirical database of learning for capacity building across disciplines; (2) examining how such learning is conceptualized and measured, with particular attention to how the literature links learning and strategic capacity building; and (3) reflecting on the implications for the transportation planning field. Findings demonstrate that learning is an integral part of a larger process (such as ‘innovation’), and mechanisms and conditions of the process drive learning and capacity-building, often accompanying each other. For example, an existing organizational culture that supports learning (condition) demonstrates matured practices of horizontal communication systems and relationship building (mechanisms). We end the paper with a discussion on implications for transportation planning, both in research and practice. Adding to the discourse on policy learning and transfer, we point to policy learning as a potentially valuable pathway for building a strategic capacity to coordinate action.

Glaser, M., te Brömmelstroet, M., Bertolini, L. (2019). Learning to build strategic capacity for transportation policy change: an interdisciplinary exploration. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives. in press

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