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VIII. Discussion

The simplified planning situation described by no means represents the planning contexts in the real world, which may involve several planners and many actors. Planners often encounter information proliferation in making plans; the framework developed here pinpoints a theoretical guideline based on which planning support systems focusing on how information should be gathered can be developed. One might argue that the behavioral model proposed deviates from our daily observations of how planners act, but it forms a basis from which empirical evidence could help make progress for the improved model to reflect human behavior. Similar argument can be found in rationality assumptions of economics (e. g., North, 1996, p. 17). As my illustration shows however, counter-intuitive formulations are useful if they can make problems transparent.

The critical view of this interpretation is that the purpose of planning behavior is to gather information for making contingent decisions that maximizes the conditional expected payoff, and that problems are not solved by plans, but by taking actions based on plans. Hopkins and Schaeffer regard such an interpretation as central to distinguish between three kinds of activities: production of information, regulation, and collective choice (Hopkins and Schaeffer, 1985). They propose a framework incorporating information, rights in land, group formation, and development of built form and use simple examples to provide a coherent framework for describing and interpreting observed planning behavior. They argue that their interpretation implies how planning agencies should organize themselves to effectively carry out plans.

The approach taken here is distinct from Hopkins and Schaeffer's in two ways: (1) My interpretation is normative or deductive in nature, while Hopkins and Schaeffer's empirical and (2) my approach describes explicitly information processing of the planner in making plans. With future effort, the framework can be developed into a more general form for describing normatively how planning should occur between multiple planners and actors.

I suggest two immediate pieces of future work and applications following this research:

  1. Testing empirically the behavioral validity of the theorems proved, and
  2. describing planning behavior in real cases.

The first would require careful experimental designs in which subjects are required to perform some simple tasks (such as transportation network designs), and their judgments in form of preferences, probabilities, and information structures are recorded to verify whether the criterion of searching for more valuable information as specified in Corollary 1 is satisfied in their planning processes. More specifically, in a gaming context, subjects make observations and decisions as well as sending messages according to some rules of information processing, and planning effectiveness of different organizational structures can be observed. This type of research could alternatively be carried out through computer simulations. The second would require field studies on real planning cases (such as urban renewal cases) and descriptions of planning behavior could be justified in light of the framework provided here.

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