TPR, 55 (2) 1984
Cross national comparative
The current state of the art regarding the nature and scope of cross national
comparative planning studies is critically reviewed in this paper. The discussion is
divided into two main parts. In the first of these literature relating to cross national
comparative studies in the social sciences as a whole is drawn upon to clarify their
purpose and subject matter. while the second part discusses the scope for cross
national planning studies with particular reference to the findings of four
published works. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the
findings of these studies in terms of future research priorities.
-------------------------------No-one can go to Paris, or Vienna, or Dusseldorf-to Paris especially, or even to
the smaller towns and cities and see the way in which there has been a coherent
plan and prescience in town expansion without being struck with the necessity of
our being able to do a similar thing here.
;'he role of cross national comparisons has long been recognised in the planning
leld as can be seen from this extract from the speech by lohnBurns, the President
~f the.Local Government Board. opening the debate in the British Parliament on the
OUslng, Town Planning, etc., Bill in 1908. 1 In recent years there has been a
~onsiderable growth of interest in comparative planning studies which is reflected
~n the increasing number of publications with a cross national component and the
evelopment of special teaching programmes on this topic.
Despite this growth in interest. an examination of both the published literature
and course outlines reveals that there is a great deal of confusion about both the
nature and scope of comparative planning studies. Although it appears to be
generally accepted that the use of the term is restricted to cross national
C~rnparisons. published work ranges from collections of independent descriptions
o planning practice in various countries. in which little or no attempt is made to
~~rry out a comparative evaluation. to highly generalised comparisons of national
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