D
METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED IN THE STUDY

The committee employed a five-step process in developing its recommended agenda:

  1. The committee specified its definition of infrastructure in terms of seven distinct modes or service types: transport, water supply, waste management, energy delivery, telecommunications, institutional buildings, and system-as-a-whole. Within this framework, each committee member proposed a long list of specific questions that research might answer. A review of literature, discussions with representatives of professional organizations, and background materials prepared by staff supplemented committee members' personal knowledge and experience.

  2. The staff conducted a cluster analysis of the consolidated list of all committee members' questions. Procedures employed were based on principles of hierarchical decomposition and statistical factor analysis, but the procedures were informally applied. The individual questions were thereby reorganized into broad categories, independently of the seven modal groups within which these questions were proposed. These new categories became the basis for defining niche areas.

  3. The committee reviewed and refined the new categories and the initially proposed questions on which the categories were based. Committee members worked in small subcommittees and discussed their work with colleagues outside of the committee. Each subcommittee defined researchable topics and new lists of representative research questions within the emerging three-layered agenda structure (e.g., niche areas, researchable topics, representative research questions).



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OCR for page 126
Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research D METHODOLOGY EMPLOYED IN THE STUDY The committee employed a five-step process in developing its recommended agenda: The committee specified its definition of infrastructure in terms of seven distinct modes or service types: transport, water supply, waste management, energy delivery, telecommunications, institutional buildings, and system-as-a-whole. Within this framework, each committee member proposed a long list of specific questions that research might answer. A review of literature, discussions with representatives of professional organizations, and background materials prepared by staff supplemented committee members' personal knowledge and experience. The staff conducted a cluster analysis of the consolidated list of all committee members' questions. Procedures employed were based on principles of hierarchical decomposition and statistical factor analysis, but the procedures were informally applied. The individual questions were thereby reorganized into broad categories, independently of the seven modal groups within which these questions were proposed. These new categories became the basis for defining niche areas. The committee reviewed and refined the new categories and the initially proposed questions on which the categories were based. Committee members worked in small subcommittees and discussed their work with colleagues outside of the committee. Each subcommittee defined researchable topics and new lists of representative research questions within the emerging three-layered agenda structure (e.g., niche areas, researchable topics, representative research questions).

OCR for page 126
Toward Infrastructure Improvement: An Agenda for Research The initial complete draft of the resulting agenda was reviewed and discussed by a wider range of professionals attending a workshop held at the National Academy of Science's Beckman Center in Irvine, California, on July 2 and 3, 1993. During this workshop and in the committee's meeting that followed, the initial draft was revised and expanded. Broad discussions of future infrastructure development provided a background for this work. Implementation strategy and program scope were among the topics discussed by the workshop participants. The committee refined the draft agenda and reconsidered the likely payoffs of research in each topic area. The committee considered how a broad infrastructure program might be structured to address the niche areas, to yield highest possible overall benefits for given levels of research investment. Possible overlaps, conflicts, or mutually beneficial interactions among researchers working on different infrastructure modes on similar research topics were topics considered in this stage of the study. These analyses supported the committee's final recommendations on implementation and staging of the program.