PhD Defense by Janille Smith-Colin


School of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Ph.D. Thesis Defense Announcement

Developing a Conceptual Framework and Building Blocks for Regional Collaboration in Performance-based Transportation Planning



Janille Smith-Colin



Dr. Adjo Amekudzi-Kennedy ( CEE)


Committee Members:

Dr. Babaak Ashuri (CEE/Building Construction), Dr. Catherine Ross (CEE/CRP), Dr. Gordon Kingsley (Public Policy), Dr. Michael Meyer (WSP), and Dr. Jamie Fischer (SRTA/GRTA)


Date & Time: Thursday, December 14th , at 9:00 AM

Location: Mason Building Conference Room 2119

The current national surface transportation legislation mandates performance-based transportation planning and emphasizes external

collaboration as a key conceptual component of a performance-based approach. These mandates have renewed the focus on

performance-collaboration activities as evidenced by ongoing efforts through the Every Day Counts Initiative, sponsored by the American

Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Regional transportation collaboration

(RTC) is the deliberate, continuous, and sustained activity that takes place when transportation agency managers and officials work together

at a regional level to solve operational problems, improve system performance, and communicate better with one another. Although RTC was

first defined by the Federal Highway Administration in 2004, there is currently an absence of models in transportation literature and practice

designed to foster systematic improvements in performance through enhanced collaboration. Given the renewed emphasis on external

collaboration in performance-based transportation planning (PBTP), there is a need for conceptual and analytical frameworks that expand the

RTC paradigm, support RTC thinking and activity, and explicitly link performance and collaboration. This research offers guidance for the

systematic improvement of regional transportation collaboration, with the expressed intent of achieving higher performing outcomes.

The primary objective of the research is to develop a conceptual framework and building blocks for regional collaboration in a

performance-based transportation planning context. The research draws on literature including transportation performance management,

inter-organizational partnerships, and collaborative governance. This literature supports the investigation of performance and collaboration as

interlinked constructs, with performance measured in terms of effectiveness, reputation and efficiency, and collaboration measured in terms of

structure, governance, resources, tools/data, and strategies. Through a comparative analysis of regional safety coalitions, this research

investigates how the concept of RTC may be operationalized in practice; identifies gaps between theory and practice, and defines building

blocks and typologies for an effective performance-collaboration system.

The research uses an inductive or theory-first approach to refine, specify, and elaborate upon the regional transportation collaboration

literature by building typologies using a small number of cases. Nine regional safety coalitions within the state of Louisiana are investigated in

an iterative process that includes the separate and sequential analysis of datasets. The research first develops a conceptual understanding of

the performance-collaboration system through a literature review; collects and analyzes data on the regional safety coalitions using a survey,

semi-structured interviews and embedded case analysis; develops building blocks and typologies to characterize maturing levels of

performance and collaboration, and generates guidance for enhancing performance through improved collaboration.

Findings from the research offer guidance to support systematic performance enhancement through improved collaboration. The findings

indicate that common collaborative strategies can be identified and associated with different levels of performance within regional

transportation coalitions. The RTC conceptual framework offers a context-specific evaluative framework that may be used to operationalize the

interlinked constructs of performance and collaboration in PBTP. This research contributes to PBTP knowledge by integrating hitherto

disparate bodies of knowledge, in the literature, to support the systematic improvement of regional partnerships operating in a

performance-collaboration system. The research also contributes to the practice of PBTP by offering typologies, building blocks, and

implementation guidance to practitioners working to improve performance outcomes through collaborative partnerships.


Event Details


  • Thursday, December 14, 2017
    9:00 am - 11:00 am
Location: Mason Building Conference Room 2119