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Strategic governance and planning as fractal
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Architecture and Water.
2012 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Some years ago I experienced a project aiming to develop strategic documents in a city which was considered progressive. The project following communicative planning practice was considered successful and yet the documents weren’t implemented. My observations about discrepancies between planning and overall results clustered around few categories: continuity/consistency, aims, leaders and context/conditions. Since my observations were based on intuition rather than empirical data, I compared them with findings in Flyvbjerg’s influential book Rationality and Power (1998) offering 15 years of evidence. The categories were approved; moreover, the book uncovered some interactions and inter-dependencies between them which were not in line with communicative planning theory. Looking for explanation for my results, I consulted Chinese strategist Sun Tzu offering probably the most comprehensive understanding of forces hidden behind success or failure of decisions and activities. Interpretations of his manuscript (e.g. Sawyer, 1996; Lord, 2000; Yuen, 2008) reveal few universal principles applicable in governance and planning. I have this hypothesis: Strategic governance is a fractal having a self-repeating pattern which might help to understand complexity of cities. This pattern is qualitative, remaining the above key categories and their interactions. However, this hypothesis cannot be proved by empirical data at this stage. Therefore, this article sketches strategic governance as a fractal based on my own experience and illustrates its projection into planning. It shows how the hypothesis could bridge an increasing contrast between complexity of governance and simplicity of concepts required by communicative planning involving non-professional stakeholders and distributed decision-making practice.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-39185Local ID: dd4395f6-1ef7-4e1b-8500-681464b0db4dOAI: diva2:1012694
AESOP thematic group on Complexity & Planning, Meeting : Complexity and Collaborative Rationality 16/11/2012 - 17/11/2012
Godkänd; 2012; 20140218 (lucdob)Available from: 2016-10-03 Created: 2016-10-03Bibliographically approved

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