International Development Planning Review

Institutional, technical and discursive path dependence in transport planning in Pakistan

International Development Planning Review (2007), 29, (3), 319–352.

Abstract

International development organisations are the main source of technical and financial assistance for transport development in Pakistan. Transport planning and policy is driven by the belief that building roads and achieving a high level of motorisation will bring economic growth, regardless of dangerous levels of pollution and the sharp growth in the number of road traffic accidents. The purpose of this paper is to explore, through institutional analysis, the way in which international development organisations influence governmental decision-making at federal, provincial and local levels in Pakistan in the transport sphere.

One of the key foci of institutional analysis is the interdependent web of organisations and agents. The dependency relations of transport organisations in Pakistan are explored, with the analysis showing that much power lies with the international development organisations that provide technical and financial assistance. But this is not just a matter of financial dependency of the national on the international sphere, as there is clear evidence that international organisations are 'path dependent', always expressing a particular view of the problem and how it should be solved. This path dependency is transmitted through national and provincial agencies by the expected and recommended means of justification of projects. Path dependency, we argue, has a technical, an institutional and a discursive dimension. These dimensions are explored in the paper. We argue that in transport policy, Pakistan is locked into the mental models and justificatory routines of international organisations.

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Imran, Muhammad

Low, Nicholas