Unlike the period from the end of World War II through the mid-1960's, which was generally characterized by stable economic growth and social and public policy environments, the 1970's and 1980's had been affected by an accelerating pace of change in economic, social, technological, and public policy factors. These factors interacted in ways that required new efforts to properly position organizations in future operating environments. Institutions are needed to develop mechanisms to assure adaptation to the ever-changing environment.
This need for new management systems incorporating more effective means of identifying new directions for organizations and shifts in allocation of resources to implement change was first recognized by the private sector. Strategic planning was initiated by large U.S. corporations in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Because of dissatisfaction with the results of strategic planning when it was conceived and applied only as a planning function, many corporations expanded their approach to strategic management. In applying strategic management, the skill of strategic planning was practiced at all levels of the organization and was integrated into all other management systems to assure the "fit" of strategy to an organization. The expected result was a major improvement in organizational effectiveness.
By the late 1970's strategic approaches had begun to be applied in a few public transportation agencies. Research was now needed to determine the status of strategic planning and management in public sector transportation agencies, to develop an understanding of which approaches are applicable and effective in public agencies, and to identify potential pitfalls. The results of research would provide transportation agencies with guidance to support the successful application of strategic management.
Research has been completed and the final report has been published as NCHRP Report 331, "Strategic Planning and Management for Transportation Agencies."