Coordination of infrastructure development : some international comparisons

Paul Chan, Robert Moehler

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


This report presents the findings from a desktop review into how governments across a selection of countries coordinate infrastructure development by working with the industry. The selected countries included the UK (Northern Ireland was examined separately from mainland UK), Canada, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The goal is to identify alternative means of coordinating infrastructure development at the government level, with a view to assist the Institution of Civil Engineers to make the case for a more strategic approach to planning and delivery of infrastructure. The need for this report derives from growing complexity in the way infrastructure development programmes are procured, and the shifting role of government from provider of infrastructure development to enabler of the process of delivery. Thus, an opportunity arose to compare alternative arrangements of government coordination. There were similarities of political governance landscape between the investigated countries regarding strategies of infrastructure delivery. Differences exist however in the way resources are allocated and decisions made regarding infrastructure development. A potential for greater transparency and collaboration between public and private sector was identified. In Germany, for example, local governments enjoy a great deal of autonomy in defining infrastructural requirements, even though the definition of requirements has to align with high-level planning principles at the regional, national and European levels. Delivery of infrastructure development is devolved to the local governments working with a range of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors with funding provided by regional allocations. By contrast, infrastructure development is coordinated by a single high-level government department Canada, Japan and South Korea. The make-up of this department varies across the three countries, with subtle differences in the roles and responsibilities of each constituent part. Nonetheless, the benefits of such an approach include a whole-systems view in decision-making and a somewhat simpler, more transparent way of funding allocation. Furthermore, in the case of Japan and South Korea, resources can be more effectively channelled towards advancing research and development related to infrastructure development capacity and more clarity in terms of skills development. The UK, on the other hand, has a fragmented approach in addressing infrastructure development, with a continuously evolving system of government departments and agencies having some form of influence on determining infrastructural requirements. In order to redress some of the challenges with such fragmentation, the situation in Northern Ireland differs slightly with the formation of a Strategic Investment Board Limited charged with overseeing infrastructure programmes, making delivery more transparent.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNewcastle-upon-Tyne
PublisherInstitution of Civil Engineers
Publication statusPublished - May 2008


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