Technology and Collaboration in Effective Transportation Policy - FY2008 TechPlan

Principal Investigator(s):

John Bryson, Former Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • Barbara Crosby, Former Associate Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Melissa Stone, Former Associate Professor , Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

In August 2007, the Twin Cities metro area was selected to participate in a federal transportation initiative called the Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA). The process leading up to this selection, along with the planning and implementation work afterwards, required the formation of a multi-agency collaboration of transportation-focused groups in the Twin Cities area. This collaboration, including external forces affecting it, internal processes, structures, and competencies that allowed it to operate, and accountability mechanisms, was the focus of this analysis. Research concentrated on the period from late 2006 through June 2008. The report introduces pertinent background surrounding the federal initiative, explains the development of an Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) in the Twin Cities, then describes the research methodology. Research for this report was guided by a conceptual framework developed by Bryson, Crosby, and Stone in 2006. Analysis consists of four sections: initial conditions, process and structure, leadership and competencies, and outcomes and accountabilities. In each section, the dynamics of the UPA collaboration in its attempt to plan for and implement a major transportation initiative in the Twin Cities is explored. Research confirmed several lessons found in literature on collaborations, including that a collaboration on the scale of the Minnesota UPA is a complex assembly of human (individuals and relationships) and non-human (technologies, artifacts, laws, and procedures) elements, and that collaboration is not an easy answer to hard problems but a hard answer to hard problems. It also highlighted some relatively new findings, of which the most notable are: the role of technology; links between high-level federal policymaking to local, operational implementation details; an emphasis on multiple roles played by sponsors, champions, neutral conveners, process designers, and technical experts; the importance of specific competencies; rules and routines as drivers of collaboration; and the importance of spatial and temporal organizational ambidexterity.


Project details:

  • Project number: 2008059
  • Start date: 06/2007
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Planning