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Exploring the institutional turn in in transport and communication history. Comparative aspects of the regulated economy of transport, communication, and information technology, 1850-2000

Traditionally, mainstream transport history has focused on empirical and macro economic oriented approaches or individual cases on the micro level. The institutional turn in transport history during the last decade, has made important contributions pinpointing the new role of the nation state, both as a regulator, investor and owner in the transport and communication industries in various countries. The rapid and accelerating development of transport and communication technologies has been an integrated part, as well as an important economic driving force both in the first, second, and third industrial revolutions. However, the role of the state has since then been challenged, changed and restored or abandoned. Market solutions – national or global – currently seems to dominate the regulatory settings in central transport and communication industries. Recently, we can also see signs of new nationalization processes as a reaction to the deregulation processes. How has the role of the national state as a regulatory force changed seen from a comparative perspective?
Here we suggest that an exploratory comparative institutional approach is used to open up a comparative discussion of various institutional patterns regarding the development and change of regional, national and international institutional settings. Central issues concern the comparative aspects on a global scale of the relation between the various types of state action. In this context, the various roles of the state in terms of ownership, subsidies, contractual arrangements, etc., are of particular interest as well as institutional settings, the technology, and the market forces behind the development of several network industries within the transport and communication sector in various countries. Network industries of special interest are the telephone industry, civil aviation, railway, telegraph, postal services, and urban transport.
The underlying purpose of the theme is to bring together both experienced scholars and young doctoral students in a session combining both empirical research and theoretical approaches in transport and communications. We also know that there are a number of research projects going on in these respects, and would like to create a meeting among the leading researchers. By also inviting a number of young scholars, we like to believe that the outcome of the theme may contribute to a new understanding of both contemporary and historical processes in the field.


  • Lena Andersson-Skog, Umeå University,Sweden,, Sweden
  • Jan H Ottosson, Uppsala University, Sweden,, Sweden

Session members

  • Jan H Ottosson, Uppsala University, Sweden,
  • Javier Vidal Olivares, University of Alicante,
  • Florian Ploeckl, University of Adelaide,
  • Joseph Amankwah-Amoah, University of Kent,
  • Lena Andersson-Skog, Umeå University,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Lars Magnusson, Uppsala University, Sweden,
  • Colleen Dunlavy, University of Wisconsin, Madison,

This panel has Call for Papers open.
If you are interested in participating, please contact the panel organizer(s) to submit a proposal.

  • Lena Andersson-Skog, Umeå University,Sweden,, Sweden
  • Jan H Ottosson, Uppsala University, Sweden,, Sweden