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Planning Support Systems (PSS) can provide important and much needed knowledge and support in strategy-making processes, by bringing explicit information to daily planning practices. However, as decades of academic studies show, their use is riddled with barriers and bottlenecks.Academic studies generated insight in these bottlenecks and identified a number of directions to bridge the implementation gap. Most notably, the transparency, flexibility and interactivity of PSS needed to be enhanced to align the instruments more with the dynamic characteristics of urban strategy-making processes.However, PSS developers do not seek instrumental use only; they seek to increase the quality of planning through this use. Accordingly, academic analysis should go beyond the user-friendliness of the PSS themselves. There are a number of studies that focus on the relations between PSS and planning quality. This paper aims to construct links between these studies of usefulness and the body of knowledge on user-friendliness. To do so, it operationalizes the characteristics of user-friendliness and the potential added value that PSS have on the qualities of planning (specifically the strategy-making phases). Consequently, the relations between these concepts are further explored.Five experiments measured user-friendliness and usefulness indicators of different PSS and explored the relations between these two concepts. The findings indicate high user-friendliness across the board, while usefulness was only found in very limited cases and for very limited dimensions (notably Insight and Consensus). The correlations between the perceived user-friendliness and usefulness on different planning qualities reveal that for the self-reported Enthusiasm of participants all user-friendliness indicators have a positive effect. For perceived gains in Insight, only Credibility and Clarity of output have a significant positive effect.
Journal: Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice - Volume 91, September 2016, Pages 166–177