Reconstruction or Requiem?


by Franco Archibugi

Planning Studies Centre - 2002



The book expresses a sound unease about the direction taken by the current analysis and criticism of planning experiences, both in the field of economics and of urban and regional planning.

Instead of seriously revising the technical-scientific shortcomings marking the various flops of the planning experience in both fields, academic debates and reflection have led to a kind of political interpretation. On the basis of the hopelessness of improving the governance of managerial and political planning initiatives, planning theory has been reduced to a generic sociological debate on planning itself; a debate which freezes planning as a permanently declining engagement.

To oppose this, the present book aims at identifying the essential guidelines of a re-launch of planning processes and techniques, configuring a kind of neo-discipline. It builds upon a multi-disciplinary integration (never seen and experimented with until now) of economic, environmental and sociological approaches. People can owe the cause of the suffered flops to the shortcoming of this in the past.

In fact, according to the Author, urban and regional planning has never seriously included the evaluation of available economic resources. Such an evaluation is normally only practiced on at least a national scale; hence multi-disciplinary integration should absorb a kind of “programming approach” for economic planning (which urban and regional planning are endowed with) of a type lacking in normal economic policy.

Another critical book has been dedicated by the author to the “programming approach” [forthcoming]. In the present book the main purpose is to integrate the evaluation of the economic constraints and compatibilities into the traditional physical and environmental planning (normally referred to by planning theory); an evaluation which is almost always neglected and ignored. And so the book dedicates itself to outlining these integrative procedures.







Chapter 1

Planning theory: reconstruction or requiem?

1. A certain uneasiness about “planning theory”.

2. Have we improved the clarity of planning methodology?

3. What are the reasons for the deceiving development of planning theory?

3.1 The equivocal case of the “substantive” side of planning theory

3.2 Expanding the scope too much

3.3 Expanding the terrain and the roots

3.4 The lack of relationship with “substantive” planning

4. Planning theory: general or not?

5. A vademecum for good planners’professional relations?

6. Deontology and epistemology of the profession


Chapter 2

In search of the integration: the past negative experience

1. Expectations and results from the integration of the planning sciences

1.1 Macro-economic planning in Europe

1.2 Strategic management and planning in the public sector

1.3 Integrated regional planning

1.4 Integrated approach in academic journals

2. The bad course of the debate

3. Is a positive reconstruction of planning theory possible?


Chapter 3

Towards a new unified discipline of planning

1. The fields of activity

1.1 Physical planning

1.2 Macro-economic planning

1.3 Social planning

1.4 Development planning

1.5 Operational planning

2. The merits and limits of the trans-disciplinary approach

2.1 Merits

2.2 Limits

3. “Positivist”-type decision-making analysis

4. Social reality is subjective reality

5. “Voluntarist”-type decision-making analysis

6. A defect of approach or one of further elaboration?


Chapter 4

The first routes of the new discipline

1. Schemes of procedures for the preparation of plans and the construction of suitable “accounting frames”

2. Schemes of the systemic interrelationship between plan levels

3. Institutional procedures of “plan bargaining” and preference consultation systems

4. Information systems for planning and their management

5. Monitoring and plan evaluation systems


Chapter 5

Some Integrative Topics of the new Planning Discipline

1. Integration between (conventional) economic accounting system and social accounting system

2. Integration between socio-economic planning (and related accounting) and technological forecasting

3. Integration between socio-economic planning (and related accounting) and physical (or territorial or environmental) planning

4. Integration between socio-economic (and physical) planning and institutional organization and negotiation

5. Integration between socio-economic planning and institutional public system and design

6. Concluding remarks: the “planological approach”


Chapter 6

Planning science: basic postulates and reference logical framework

1. From the planning “theory” to the planning “science”

2. A reference framework for planning science: some essential postulates

2.1  Logical postulates

2.2  Field or delimitation postulates

3. The planning process

4. The planning system

4.1  The planning selection system

4.2  The planning implementation system

4.3  Functional and time interdependencies

5. Conclusions


Chapter 7

The future of national planning systems: some new steps

1. The concept of “national planning”

2. National planning in a systemic vision

3. What opportunities exist for systemic.type development of the national planning?

3.1. The weight of the past

3.2. Strategic planning at the national scale

4. The american federal strategic planning: its effect on the national planning future

5. From strategic planning to national economic programming: a necessary step toward a systemic planning

6. Toward a scientific and professional approach to the systemic planning


Chapter 8

Planning and plan evaluation: some well know and often neglected pitfalls

1. Logical indeterminateness: “evaluation” versus “values”

2. Systemic disconnectedness

3. Strategic insurbodination

4. Self-referencing

5. Sub-optimation
6. Bounded rationality