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We welcome new PhD student

Project 2E aims to understand how political priorities for long-term maintenance are set in politically controlled organizations. An important role in this work is played by the project’s PhD student, Marcella Holz.

Marcella Holz started her PhD at Lund University in October 2023. She has a background in social sciences, more specifically human rights and international relations and development.

– In our project, we investigate the political prioritization of infrastructure maintenance and its social consequences. We plan to use qualitative methods and interview politicians and citizens,” says Marcella Holz.

The project manager is Alexander Paulsson, Associate Professor at Lund University. He says that there are a number of issues related to things like political change, new coalitions and minority rule, which makes it interesting to study how to plan long-term maintenance and see where the important priorities are set.

– Our hypothesis is that many priorities are not set by politicians, but by the business at more operational levels – including strategic decisions. This hypothesis is something we will investigate empirically,” says the project manager. In general, we know from studies of technical administration, where politicians follow what officials propose.

The project has begun a pilot study of an area where sewage pipes are being renovated over the course of a year, with consequences for both citizens and commerce in the vicinity. The project is studying how this is decided politically and how it affects those affected in the short term.

– For example, we have talked to shop owners who have lost many of their customers when the street is closed. These kinds of consequences are also important to highlight. “One interesting thing we heard from many people in the pilot is that things like water and sewage are important, but other renovations or redesigns of the street that are done at the same time could have been done without. So there is a duality, while you can be critical of the consequences of construction, you are not against maintaining the water and sewage system, for example,” says Alexander Paulsson.

Marcella Holz hopes that the research will contribute to academic knowledge about the political priorities of infrastructure maintenance, and also the social effects of maintenance measures.

– In addition, we hope to provide guidance for future maintenance planning and policy-making processes that take into account social impacts.
Her background and knowledge is an important part of the project, says Alexander Paulsson,

– It is important to have someone who knows about political decision-making processes, but also, as in Marcella’s case, is knowledgeable about the social consequences of maintenance measures.