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The Governance of Infrastructure$
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Kai Wegrich, Genia Kostka, and Gerhard Hammerschmid

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787310

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198787310.001.0001

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Infrastructure Governance as Political Choice

Infrastructure Governance as Political Choice

(p.21) 2 Infrastructure Governance as Political Choice
The Governance of Infrastructure

Kai Wegrich

Gerhard Hammerschmid

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores political decision-making relating to infrastructure investments in light of the recent trends towards establishing independent expert bodies to guide this process. The chapter argues that the complexity of infrastructure governance leads to patterns of decision-making shaped by mechanisms of bounded rationality and selective perception. Drawing on the concept of ‘political choice’, it also shows that current debates about such independent expert bodies too often seek to replace the political logic with a technocratic one, instead of exploring ways to increase the intelligence of inherently political processes. Institutional design debates suffer from ‘naive institutionalism’ overestimating the effects of formal institutional changes and ignoring the role of informal political dynamics. Overall, the institutional design debate in infrastructure governance should be more reflective and consider experiences with institutional reforms and attempts to depoliticise the policy process with tools of rational analysis.

Keywords:   decision-making, infrastructure, investment, bounded rationality, complexity, political choice, naive institutionalism, institutional reform

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