Improving project delivery; Programmes as the silver bullet?
Transport and land use planning are in a state of flux. Projects face increased technical, social, financial, political and legal complexities while the conventional project planning approach is struggling to deal with these complexities. As a result, many projects fail to be completed in time and on budget. To deal with this issue, alternative planning approaches are developed in planning theory and literature. On the one hand, a more communicative project planning approach has been developed. On the other, a more programme-oriented planning approach has been suggested. While the former trend has inspired many empirical studies, the latter trend has received less research attention. Therefore, in this article, we focus on the trend towards a more programme-oriented planning approach. The objective of this article is to gain insight into how programmes impact project performance in light of project complexities. To this end, we conducted a case study research into how two different programmes – the Urgent Approach Programme and the National Collaboration Programme on Air Quality – impact the delivery of the national highway project A4 between Burgerveen-Leiden in the Netherlands. We used desk research and conducted 20 semi-structured interviews on project and programme level with various stakeholders. Our analysis reveals that programmes do not really influence technical and social complexities. These are predominantly affected by the introduction of a communicative project planning approach. Through restructuring project-specific political discussions and providing solutions to legal issues by explicitly connecting multiple projects to each other, programmes can be an effective means to deal with political and legal complexities.