Blog » Institutional Labyrinth.pdf
This is a new paper that has just been completed under the title "Institutional Labyrinth: Designing a way out for improving urban transport services: lessons from current practices" by Om Prakash Agarwal, Sr. Urban Transport Specialist and Ajay Kumar, Lead Transport Economist in the World Bank.
This paper highlights some of the key issues that come up when planning the structure of lead urban transport institutions in several cities and how these issues have been dealt with in some successful examples around the world. It is hoped that these would have important lessons for cities working on setting up such institutions.
Urban Transport Community of PracticeLesley ShneierWhy is there little discussion about total costs equal to the sum of production and transaction costs?The specified item was not found.Alumni Development Know-How Network have read some but not all of the document, but what I have read thus far, is a refreshing read. I say this because it attempts to directly deal head on with the adage that "institutions matter", in this case in the urban transport lead agency sector in several (about 8) different countries. Two transport experts, took on a substantial challenge by attempting to explain how the production functions of lead urban transport agencies were each organized in different country settings and the what and why they turned out successful or otherwise. Their attempt to tackle the "whole" I think is laudable and certainly tough to do. Why various institutional arrangements (of governance) led to differential production outcomes comes about as close to how I see project delivery gets played out. I plan to come back to this in future. There is a lot of material here to tackle and learn from..
Neil, thank you for the thought-provoking comments and for raising such key issues. First of all, I'd like to say that I wholeheartedly agree with you -- we do need answers on why a given project does or doesn't work. It is essential for any organization to evaluate its performance and remain accountable for successes/failures.
By now, and especially taking the work of "Institutional Labyrinth" into consideration, I think we can all agree that solid institutional frameworks are central to success. This holds true for organizations of all sizes in many areas of society -- from the leadership of a small club or volunteer organization, to the management practices of a private firm, to national institutions that guarantee economic freedom and foster innovation -- institutions are often at the root of success and failure. We have the short qualitative answer: "yes, institutions do matter" -- but as you rightly said we need to take the analysis a step further and ask, "how do they?" A rigorous quantitative analysis of various institutions and their role in determining success would be the starting point for answering this question; however, I am still a bit unsure of what such a study would look like. For example, when asking question "How do they matter?" are you seeking the degree to which institutions matter, or a different economic indicator?
The "Institutional Labyrinth" helpfully identifies the "Key Success Factors in the Sustainability of the Lead Institution." Perhaps if these factors -- namely public value, internal capacity, and external/political support -- were fleshed out a bit and quantified, we could begin to answer exactly "how do institutions matter?"
Neil, thank you for taking the time to give a very detailed explanation of the issues we were discussing - you're right, the concepts can get pretty abstract and jargony, but I think you explained it well. This sub-field of economics, TCE, does sound fascinating and should go a long way to providing useful analysis of World Bank projects - as seen in the document you just posted. I haven't yet had a chance to go through it in detail, but it does look intriguing!