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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Planning Styles in Conflict: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission

  • Author(s): Innes, Judith E.;
  • Gruber, Judith
  • et al.

After a 5-year study of transportation planning in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have concluded that the contentiousness we observed in the process was due in great part to differences in participants’ styles of planning and not solely to disagreements over desired outcomes. Each style involved different assumptions about information, public participation, and what a good plan is like, as well as about the process of planning. Practitioners of each tended to believe deeply in their approach and to regard with suspicion, if not hostility, those practicing different styles. We identified four coexisting styles, which we label technical/bureaucratic, political influence, social movement, and collaborative. Each style tended to be associated with different types of outcomes, though this was not explicit in discussion. The political planners divided resources among players, whereas the collaborative and the social movement planners were associated with strategies designed to benefit the region as a whole.

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