First Advisor

Jennifer Dill

Term of Graduation

Spring 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Indicators, Institutionalization, Performance measures, Policy change, Public health, Social learning



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 285 pages)


Transportation is an important social determinant of health that shapes the places where people "live, learn, work, and play" to the extent that an individual's zip code better predicts their health than their genetic code. Researchers and practitioners have called for the use of health indicators in transportation as one way to integrate public health concerns into transportation. The underlying hope is that new organizational routines, such as measuring and tracking indicators, can translate policy goals into policy practice. However, it is unclear how indicators are used and what impact they have on policy--the creation or modification of policies and planning documents--and practice, especially in transportation. Research on the capacity for indicators to affect decision-making has shown mixed results, with some studies showing that indicators may instead reinforce the status quo. Using a case study approach, this dissertation explores the use and influence of health indicators in municipal transportation plans, addressing an identified gap in knowledge regarding the extent and use of health indicators in transportation planning and decision-making processes. I examined indicators within cities, which are understudied compared to studies of indicators at the metropolitan level and the state level. Organizational factors were more important than indicator usability factors for influencing administrative decision-making, including the institutionalization of indicators over time. Social learning occurred within participatory processes where policy actors framed problems to be addressed in transportation plans. A change in the cultural values regarding the role of transportation was a critical component in making major policy change, although social learning may have also played a role. Minor policy learning and change regarding the use of indicators as a management strategy occurred within all cases. Previous experience with data-driven management helped institutionalize indicators into administrative routines


©2023 Kelly Christine Rodgers

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