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Temporality and joint commitment in railway planning

Authors Åsa Boholm
ISBN 1653-3895
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2010
Published at School of Public Administration
Center for Public Sector Research (CEFOS)
Language en
Keywords decision making, railways
Subject categories Social Anthropology, Public Administration Studies, Communication Studies


Decisions are seen from a phenomenological lens focusing on their characteristic temporal and flexible structure of meaning. In a bureaucratic social setting emphasizing procedural rules, legal constraints and formal rationality the temporality of decisions can prove to be problematic. The physical planning of transport systems infrastructure projects is characterized by high level of social, material, technical and regulatory complexity. Drawing on ethnographic observations of railway planning meetings this case study explores how decision processes over time are shaped by the inter-dependency of planning actors, their co-ordination of action and adaptive expectations. The paper contributes to the understanding of the interrelatedness of decision processes in organizational contexts, following a “messy” logic of practical and material considerations, negotiations of what is to be considered to be of value, and not the least, post-hoc rationalizations.

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