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The Quest for Coherence Between Institutions and Technologies in Infrastructures


  • M. Finger
  • J. Groenewegen
  • R. Künneke


This article elaborates on the possible interrelations between the technical and institutional coordination of infrastructures. There is indeed a need for coherence between both in order to safeguard a satisfactory functioning in terms of economic performance, guarantee of public values and technical system integrity. It is argued that the ongoing discussion on the liberalization of various infrastructures focuses very much on institutional changes, including market restructuring towards competition and privatization. The technical repercussions of these institutional changes are often neglected. On the other hand, technological change might also have very fundamental consequences for organizations and institutions. Building on the idea of a co-evolution between institutions and technologies, we define very simplified technical and institutional coordination mechanisms. By comparing both, we are able to determine their coherence and relate this to infrastructure performance. In this way, we provide a novel attempt to relate institutional arrangements to the technical network-specificities of infrastructures. This offers a different perspective on the organization of these sectors and a new explanation of their performance. We illustrate our arguments by way of cases from the electricity and air transport sectors. Implications for theory and policy conclude this article.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Finger & J. Groenewegen & R. Künneke, 2005. "The Quest for Coherence Between Institutions and Technologies in Infrastructures," Competition and Regulation in Network Industries, Intersentia, vol. 6(4), pages 227-260, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sen:journl:v:6:i:4:y:2005:p:227-260

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Bitran, Eduardo & Serra, Pablo, 1998. "Regulation of privatized utilities: The Chilean experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 945-962, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Scholten & Rolf Künneke, 2016. "Towards the Comprehensive Design of Energy Infrastructures," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-24, December.
    2. Künneke, Rolf & Groenewegen, John & Ménard, Claude, 2010. "Aligning modes of organization with technology: Critical transactions in the reform of infrastructures," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 494-505, September.
    3. John Groenewegen, 2011. "Evolution and Design of Institutions Supporting Liberalization," Chapters,in: International Handbook of Network Industries, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Worch, Hagen & Truffer, Bernhard & Kabinga, Mundia & Eberhard, Anton & Markard, Jochen, 2013. "A capability perspective on performance deficiencies in utility firms," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-9.
    5. M. Maegli & C. Jaag & M. Finger, 2010. "Regulatory Governance Costs in Network Industries: Observations in Postal Regulation," Competition and Regulation in Network Industries, Intersentia, vol. 11(2), pages 207-238, June.
    6. Bolton, Ronan & Foxon, Timothy J., 2015. "Infrastructure transformation as a socio-technical process — Implications for the governance of energy distribution networks in the UK," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 90(PB), pages 538-550.
    7. Sertaç Oruç & Scott Cunningham, 2014. "Transmission Rights to the Electrical Transmission Grid in the Post Liberalization Era," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer;Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology (PICMET), vol. 5(4), pages 686-705, December.
    8. Markard, Jochen & Raven, Rob & Truffer, Bernhard, 2012. "Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 955-967.
    9. Rolf Künneke, 2012. "Mapping Institutional, Technological and Policy Configurations of Inverse Infrastructures," Chapters,in: Inverse Infrastructures, chapter 3 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Hecher, Maria & Vilsmaier, Ulli & Akhavan, Roya & Binder, Claudia R., 2016. "An integrative analysis of energy transitions in energy regions: A case study of ökoEnergieland in Austria," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 40-53.

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