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2E Political decision-making on long term maintenance of infrastructure


This project is about political decision-making. How is infrastructure maintenance prioritised in a politically driven organisation, where leadership can change every four years? And how is the maintenance of water and sewage and roads prioritised in comparison with other welfare areas, such as elderly care and education?

In Swedish municipalities, there is a tug of war between different areas of welfare costs. At the same time, there is an accumulated need for maintenance of physical infrastructure. Knowledge of ‘where’ and ‘when’ this need is distributed among many organisations, departments and boards, and ‘who’, i.e. who has the formal and informal power to decide on priorities, is unclear. These issues are under-researched both in Swedish and international contexts.


In this project we aim to fill this knowledge gap by studying political decision-making processes regarding long-term maintenance of water and sewage and roads. How is long-term maintenance work prioritised in organisations with different types of funding? What are the mandatory passage points for reaching decisions and how are these shaped, and by whom? What is the division of responsibilities between politicians, managers and engineers? Answering these questions can provide answers to the question of why maintenance is not prioritised even though sufficient resources and technologies are often available.

Project goals

Since the goal of this project is to produce new implementable knowledge about political decision-making processes, more knowledge is needed about how prioritisation is done in practice and what considerations are made.

  • The project will lead to long-term maintenance of roads and water and wastewater infrastructure being prioritised to a greater extent in four medium-sized municipalities.
  • The results of the project also intend to show that Sweden is a leading country in this field.