1984 volume 11(2) pages 149 – 161
doi:10.1068/b110149

Cite as:
Williams R H, 1984, "Cross-national research: translating theory into practice" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 11(2) 149 – 161

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Cross-national research: translating theory into practice

R H Williams

Received 8 December 1983; in revised form 21 March 1984

Abstract. Several cross-national studies are reviewed, to consider their range of objectives and research structures. The emphasis is on studies comparing the United Kingdom with other West European countries. Three categories of objective are proposed: improvement of planning practice, development of planning theory, and promotion of common understanding as a basis for supranational planning measures. Studies reviewed range from one-person studies of one or two other countries to collaborative studies of different scales of complexity. Problems of access, language, background knowledge, comparability, and nationally biased perceptions are discussed. The conclusions relate to the need to limit the objectives, because of the inherent complexities of cross-national work; to acceptance that good contacts form a valid basis for a project; to the value of contrast rather than similarity; to the value of nonnative researchers; and to the place of linguistic competence and the limits imposed by the use of English.

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