Changed planning for planned and unplanned change | My Assignment Tutor

Corresponding author:Cees van WoerkumEmail: [email protected] planning for plannedand unplanned changeCees van WoerkumWageningen University, The NetherlandsNoelle AartsUniversity of Amsterdam and Wageningen University, The NetherlandsAnn Van HerzeleResearch Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), BrusselsAbstractChange, planned and unplanned, can be the product of events (change by chance), new language(change from societal interaction), and practices (track-bound change), and can involve many differentsocietal actors. To position planning as an activity within this broader context, we present a model thatcaptures the interplay between these three sources of change, leading to a typology of change-inducingphenomena. Change, consequently, can be managed in an active and effective way rather than beingviewed as an environment of fuzzy conditions and unpredictable dynamics. Our model may be helpfulto planners, as an analytic tool, usable in educational curricula as well as in the practice of planning.Keywordsplanning, change, complexity theory, social interactionIntroductionThe concept of planning has lost its innocence. For decades planning indicated an obvious way to gear activities, via a carefully designed strategy, to well-chosen outcomes, toenhance effectivity as well as efficiency. This classical planning model according to the‘rational approach’ (Allmendinger, 2002), however, is contested on all sides for severalreasons. Firstly, it presupposes a knowable planning situation, but this is seldom the case:ArticlePlanning Theory10(2) 144–160© The Author(s) 2011Reprints and 10.1177/1473095210389651http://plt.sagepub.comDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 145on the one hand, the situation is usually too complex and can only be understood at arestricted level; on the other hand, it is too dynamic, with the result that interventionsmust be based upon inevitably outdated assessments. Secondly, it presupposes a clearcut planning centre, whereas planning-in-practice is a practical process in which allkinds of societal actors join in order to get what they want. Lastly, this old classicalmodel has the ring of scientific rationality about it that cannot be maintained in reality:involved actors frame their interests and the desirable strategies to achieve any commongoal on the basis of values and personal experiences. They are ‘agents and not parts’(Portugali, 2008).These observations have led to a variety of reactions to the concept of planningitself. For some people, the concept has outlived its relevance and should be replacedby concepts such as social learning (Wals, 2007) or adaptive management (Booher andInnes, 2006; Holling, 1978). Others try to enlarge the scope of planning by incorporating alternatives for the rigid means–end forms. Examples are participatory planning(Forester, 2001), contingency planning (Andersen, 2003), evolutionary planning(Burnes, 2005), or, from a complexity perspective, planning on the edge of chaos(Burnes, 2005; Gilchrist, 2000; Morgan, 1998; Urry, 2004;). And, of course, somescholars as well as practitioners try to stick to the classical concept of planning, butmake great efforts to optimize their set of instruments (better data, better models, tracking and tracing).For the above reasons, we should look at the concept with a fresh eye, going backto the fundamentals. We therefore have to place planning within the broader conceptof change. Change means, for us all, significant alternations in the conditions inwhich humans live. Our concept of change is situated in the public domain, at thelevel of a geographically defined social system, relevant for many and generallyencompassing a bunch of causes and consequences. Planning is about change, but notall change is planned. Many of the problems with planning arise from the fact thatplanned change must be undertaken in the midst of unplanned change. In other words:both types of change interfere. This is our point of departure. We propose a modelthat links planned change to other sources of change, with particular attention to theinterconnectors.The outline of this article is as follows: firstly, we explain the main principles fromwhich we have built our model. We then elaborate on its parts and their relationships.Finally, we deal with the practical consequences.We believe that our model is suitable for many planning situations in urban or ruralareas. However, its merits are probably more apparent in the case of the planning ofpublic goods such as community health, safety, or ecological sustainability – issues thatnecessitate dealing with many actors, multiple scales, and a lot of uncertainty – than inthe case of the planning of hardware such as roads or houses. But, of course, these issuescannot be separated.We make use of literature from very different sources. New thinking about planningis a general phenomenon that evokes lively debates in several domains. In this way wetry to enrich our understanding of what is needed to expand the domain of planning,while keeping its boundaries clear.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016146 Planning Theory 10(2)The principlesOur model is based on a few assumptions:1. change can be planned or/and unplanned2. in both planned and unplanned change processes different societal actors areinvolved3. change is the product of a) events, b) new language, and c) practices.We deal with these principles successively.Unplanned and planned changeWe are indoctrinated to think before we act and easily believe that conscious problemsolving or decision making steers our lives. In reality, the role of unconsciously inspiredbehaviour is much greater than we are used to believe (see, amongst others, Dijksterhuis,2004; Van Woerkum and Aarts 2008). This holds true for all kinds of decisions in ourpersonal lives; smaller ones, like the choices we make in the grocery store, or biggerones, like the choice of a new house, occupation, or even partner with whom to live.Unconscious decision making does not mean invalid or detrimental decision making.Dijksterhuis (2004) has empirically shown that, in the case of complex problems, theunconscious mind creates better solutions than the conscious one. New ideas stem fromthe links between all kinds of cognitive elements, via a process that is not traceable andtherefore unplannable. In science many new theories are the result of sheer serendipity(Merton, 1957). Latour (2005: 210) suggests that big decisions are less rational thansmall ones because they are much less equipped. In a supermarket, for example, youbenefit from dozens of measurement instruments that equip you with the ability to calculate and to choose: labels, trademarks, weight, prices, advertisements, and so on.However, in planning situations – which are typically ill-defined or ‘wicked’ in nature(Rittel and Webber, 1973; Van Bueren et al., 2003) – this is far from the case.But on the group level also, the dynamics follow an unpredictable path: our discussions, especially in an informal setting, show a lot of variation. In this interaction, ‘thefuture is under perpetual construction’ (Stacey, 2000: 128), from the known to theunknown. It also holds true for decision making at the level of organizations (VanWoerkum and Aarts, submitted) or at a societal level. Complexity theory indicates thatone of the results of globalization is the unpredictable clash of numerous events, whichcreates new issues that affect local situations considerably (Burnes, 2005; Coleman,2006; Gilchrist, 2000; Morgan, 1998; Qvortrup, 2006; Scheffer, 2009). For instance, thetrain of events preceding and following the 9/11 disaster has had a serious effect on thesocial climate in the old neighbourhoods in Dutch cities, where mixed Muslim and nonMuslim populations live side by side. Our culture constantly changes, but not only on thebasis of a plan. We adopt new behaviour (by model-learning, by mimicry) but oftenwithout much conscious attention (Rogers et al., 2005).The question is not how we can circumvent these unplanned phenomena. This isclearly impossible, if only for capacity reasons: we simply cannot think consciouslyDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 147about everything, only about a few subjects. The question is how we can develop andimplement plans knowing that a lot of decision making and action, on all levels, isunplanned.Different actors are involvedPlanning is easier in relatively closed systems, such as the building of a house. Manyplanning situations, however, are tending to more open systems; this has been a particularly remarkable feature of our society in recent decades. For instance, water management no longer involves just the preservation of a safe water level for current purposes(not too high, not too low) but has to incorporate the interests of societal actors lookingat water quality (e.g. for nature development), or attractive areas for recreation or forhousing. The possibly dramatic consequences of climate change call for completely newstrategies for dealing with resultant water surpluses or deficits. With the broadening ofits scope, several new parties appear within the planning arena (Booher and Innes, 2006;Maarleveld, 2003).So, we can no longer rely on just one planning agency to do the job. Planning is situated in a multi-actor network, where one party may have a coordinating function tointegrate the existing interests, but this party is not sitting behind the steering wheel, nomatter how well-developed his/her ideas are (Hoch, 2007).The sources of changeWe could imagine different ways of answering the question: what causes change? Forinstance we could point at the variety of social actors (NGOs, active groups, the media,the scientific community, interest groups such as industry and so on) who might influence responsible governmental organizations, forcing them to respond with new ideasand new behaviour (Van Woerkum and Aarts, submitted). The so-called stakeholdermodels follow this line (Friedman and Miles, 2006). These models answer the questionof where agencies change is stemming from, but not what really causes the impetus forchange. This perspective was followed by writers such as Leonie Sandercock, whofocused attention on the critical role of mobilized groups within civil society in puttingpressure on state-directed planning practices (Sandercock, 1998: 179–80).Another approach could be to look at change models as they appear in the literatureon change, as in the classical handbook of Bennis et al. (1961). However, this type ofbook concentrates on planned change. As we said, planned change is just a part of thephenomenon of change, and it is precisely the relationship between planned andunplanned change that is one of our main concerns.So we have to look further. Change is, we can say, the result of a new connection inthe existing world. It can be a connection between humans, but we also have to acknowledge the creative power of non-human agencies and their ‘combinatorial productivity’(DeLanda, 1999: 12). This applies to everything in nature, from the cell, the human bodyto water-systems. And we have to be open to the fundamental idea that what happens inour environment is not simply a possibility that becomes real, but rather an actualizationof a process, where heterogeneous elements come together. Therefore our world isDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016148 Planning Theory 10(2)basically unpredictable, an assumption behind the concept of ‘assemblage’, that – unlikea concept like ‘structure’ – is well suited to account for change (Van Wezemael, 2008).‘Assemblage’ denies linearity. What is getting connected cannot be reduced to its constitutive elements. It is the relation between the heterogeneous and flexible elements whichform, temporarily, the assemblage.What we like to distillate from this notion is the idea of unpredictability. Change happens. But from what? To answer this question we have tried to develop a new typologybased on our thinking about the basis of change, planned or unplanned, that leads us tothree sources of change. If we wish to get a keener insight into the change process itself,we have to consider other aspects. These are 1) the emergence of events, 2) the use oflanguage, and 3) the development of practices. In the first case we could say that changeis the result of the coincidence of what happens in the world: it is change by chance. Weare not very accustomed to seeing this source of change as a ‘big mover’ (it does notsound very ‘big’) but – as we explain – this element is greatly underrated and a constantlydisturbing factor. In the second case change is the product of symbolic interaction: bytalking, we arrive at new interpretations and new ideas about doing things differently(Ford, 1999). In the third case change is the result of practices: by acting according torules (whether written or unwritten), we change the world and how it looks. We might usethe term track-bound change to indicate these practices, inasmuch as they reveal a pattern, follow a script, plan, or action rule. In this way we arrive at the model show inFigure1, indicating the three sources of change and the three related basic elements.Our main aim is not to explain the relative importance of these three sources ofchange, but rather to explain how the three basic elements work together, how they influence each other. The interplay between them is our core concern, as we explore later on,but before doing this we wish to say a few words about the three cornerstones separately.We pay special attention to the distinction between planned or unplanned change that isinherent in all three cases.Figure 1. Three sources of changeDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 149Change by chanceThe fact that a lot of change is not the result of a bright, long-term master plan but happens because people have to cope with unexpected events is more and more accepted(Gilchrist, 2000). Complexity theorists tell us that our world is basically unpredictable inmany aspects (Burnes, 2005). The weather is a well-known example, but complexity isalso a feature of our globalizing social world. Van Ginneken (2003) has shown how a lotof sudden changes in the realm of public opinion are the product of a clash of often smallevents that create a big impact. Kingdon (1984) tries to explain the sudden emergence ofchanges in the policy domain. He makes a distinction between three process streams,regarding 1) problems, 2) policies and 3) politics. The greatest policy changes occur byserendipitous linkages of these three streams in our ‘package’. Although not completelyrandom, dramatic policy change relies on ‘considerable doses of messiness, accident,fortuitous coupling, and dumb luck’ (Kingdon, 1984: 216). In our view, events are thetriggers of such opportunistic combinations (see also Morgan, 1998).Events can be planned or unplanned. Unplanned events are tricks of nature in the formof floods, plagues, or extreme cold or heat. However, the human factor is generally to befound not far away. Floods can be predicted or made known immediately before thedwellers in endangered areas are at risk. The effects of extreme cold or heat are mitigatedby offering shelter to homeless people or installing air-conditioning in homes for theelderly. Negatively, plagues can spread as a result of poor hygiene conditions.In many other cases, events are planned by authorities or NGOs, without a clearinsight into what could happen. The closing of a primary school in a small village cancoincide with the announcement by a local shop owner that he is closing his grocerystore, and these independent decisions unwittingly create a new event: the community issuddenly deprived of its main resources.Change from social interactionIf people are talking with each other, a possibly new mechanism that evokes change is inoperation. Of course, in a sense, every utterance is a creation: we do not put the wordstogether in our minds and, having done that, speak them out loud. We formulate our ideasin full action, and for this reason there is a potential for spontaneity and newness. But indiscussion with others, our creative impulses may arise as the result of this interaction,and this is our subject here. We cannot predict in any discussion what the content of thefourth turn from now will be. In the interchange between people, a lot happens whichcannot easily be pre-organized: ‘The source of change lies in the detail of interactivemovement in the living present’ (Stacey et al., 2000: 36).This source of change can be oriented to a future, desirable state: what we want to see,be it a green environment or a safe community. It can also be directed to a way of arrivingat this state. In this it can precede a plan, especially the first calls for imagination. Thefuzziness of speech, which is often contested as an obstacle in arriving at an agreement,is here rather an advantage (Van Woerkum, 2003) . It can stimulate imagination. We thusarrive at the phenomenon of social creativity (Montuori and Purser, 1999). According toCsikszentmihalyi (1996), creativity is not just to be seen as an individual property, but isDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016150 Planning Theory 10(2)grounded in social practices, and results from interaction. As we have explored elsewhere,creativity, moreover, is not only the work of the great artists, but an ordinary phenomenon, and an aspect of the daily problem-solving activities of common people (VanWoerkum et al., 2007). Discursive practices are of course a big part of these activities,using language as a vehicle.Of course, we speak about a potential. Language can also be used to reinforce existingnorms, to prevent change (Ford et al., 2001). Our presupposition is, however, that socialchange cannot be imagined without social interaction and language. In the literatureabout planning, especially in the research on what planners really do in their everydaysituations, the role of discourse has gained a prominent place. ‘Beginning to assess thepolitics of analysts’ and planners’ speech – and their listening more or less to others’speech too – this literature suggests that practising planners both tell and listen to practice stories all the time’ (Forester, 2001: 22). Planners are continuously involved in building (and breaking) stories ‘… deliberate work of considering means and ends, values andoptions, what is relevant and significant, what is possible and what matters, all together’(Forester, 2001: 29).Social interaction can be planned or unplanned. We plan meetings between architectsor urban designers and the municipal administration or/and with a building consortiumand/or with the expected users of buildings or parks. In the literature we can find a lot ofattention focused on methods of multi-actor decision making with the aim of problemsolving (Forester, 2001; Timmermans, 2004). Less is known about the exchanges outsideof these arranged meetings, within each involved group or between groups. Every organization has its regular contacts, with an agenda and minutes, but also its less visible massof numerous informal encounters (the ‘downtown’ of an organization). For many organizational experts, these informal, everyday contacts form the essence of the organization(Pepper, 1995). And also for us, oriented to urban or spatial planning, these multi-actornetworks have their less regulated and less predictable discussions, in which views areexchanged and new ideas are born.Track-bound changeChange can also be the result of a chain of activities. In our everyday life we formulateaction rules for ourselves to improve the quality of our lives. For instance, we make thedecision to use the stairs instead of the lift when we go to talk with a colleague on anotherfloor, and this becomes a new habit which may improve our health. In the world of urbanor spatial planning, many desirable changes are achieved by the execution of a plan,leading to certain practices. The safety of a community is increased by new patrollingroutines of the local police. The recycling of renewable material, such as glass or paper,can be enhanced by a system of assembling and re-using of these materials, which wouldotherwise be thrown away. Even the construction of a building or a road can be lookedupon as the hardware via which new practices are developed. It is not the buildings orroads that make the difference, but the activities that they promote. New roads, forinstance, can bring separated communities closer to each other and can facilitate newcontacts and joint activities.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 151Can these new activities really be considered as a source of change? Are they not justimplementation? In our view, practices have their own dynamics. In doing things, weexperience impulses that we could not experience without the action. We all know that aconsiderable gap may exist between a plan and the way it is implemented. One couldargue that this difference could be easily explained by saying that the implementationwas carried out inadequately, not according to the rules, or that the plan was not realistic,not taking into account important situational factors. Indeed, these are possibilities.Another perspective, however, is to recognize that no plan can cope with the complexity of real-life situations and that a lot of work has to be done in the act of performingitself, mostly by trial and error or by adapting one’s behaviour spontaneously to the constraints and challenges of the new situation. As Irazábal notes, in traditional planningincrementalism is also ‘frequently an explicit or implicit constituent’ (2009: 132), and inliberal capitalist societies it is ‘the most prevalent of planning approaches’ (2009: 132). Inthe world of business, it is a well-known fact that excellent managers are not the ones whofollow their nice plans faithfully, but those who can best handle the dilemmas and opportunities that they meet in reality. This is also the stance of Mintzberg (1994), who in manypublications presents the view that during implementation much strategic thinking musttake place. For instance, we constantly have to deal with the unplanned side effects ofwhat we planned (Dörner, 1996). So, we hold that practice itself is an important source ofchange as it is also a central concern in the ‘strategy as practice’ approach (Jarzabkowski,2005). It is track-bound, but the specific track or road is discovered by walking on it.In the same way as we saw in the case of social interaction and language, we do notmean that practices as such lead to change –at least not always. On the contrary. Manypractices are fixed and survive the goals for which they were developed; and, in a way,many practices are regulated by path dependency, so that the activities of yesterday arethe best predictors of what we will do in the future. But – again – without looking at newroutines for doing things differently, planned or unplanned, we cannot analyze changeproperly.Let us look now at the planned–unplanned dichotomy. Track-bound changes can bethe result of a plan, and often are; but they can also, from the beginning, be the result ofless deliberate factors. Many cultural trends are translated in scripts, in special ways ofdoing things, without much overt discussion about how this happens. Look at the behaviour of cyclists in towns. In big cities like New York, London or Paris, cyclists find theirway as a form of spontaneous self-organization. There is no clear plan behind their wayof using the town’s infrastructure. In a sense, practice breeds practice here. In doing so,they change the urban traffic situation, making new tracks for themselves (for it is riskybehaviour, both for themselves and others), and by doing so they urge the administrationto regulate the position of cyclists in the total stream of road users. Another example isthe use of parks in the Netherlands by new immigrants from countries around theMediterranean Sea. Whole extended families often sit on the grass, eating, drinking, having a good time. These new routines are not planned but make quite a difference to howparks are used and, as a consequence, how they may be designed in the future (VanLieshout and Aarts, 2008). Of course, new scripts are also operating in the case of actors,including the public administration or professionals. For instance, police officers aredevising better adapted routines for coping with criminality.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016152 Planning Theory 10(2)The connection between the three elementsSo far we have detected three sources and three basic factors that can bring about change.But, as we said, our concern is not so much what these factors are but how they interplay.For this reason we have extended our model with six arrows (see Figure 2), indicating aninfluence from one element to another.Being able to plan an environment with three sources of change, in which unplannedprocesses continuously exert their influence, means in our view mainly handling theinterplay between events, talking and practices.We explore the six connections successively, beginning with the arrows on the leftside of the model.Issue-provoking eventsA clash of events can lead to an issue when people attach significance to a situation orperceived problem (Cheney and Christensen, 2001). Issues can arise unexpectedly, oftenliterally by accident, but there is often a planned part in that many events are framed in acompelling way by an initiator and therefore achieve issue status (Cobb and Elder, 1983).Often an NGO initiates a message that is reinforced by the media, who select an issueand present it as newsworthy. Issues are explicitly or implicitly linked to underlyingvalues that are sensitized by earlier related events. The phenomenon is vividly describedby Gladwell (2001) in his book The Tipping Point.Figure 2. The interplay between the three elementsDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 153In this way, issues can be managed by the initiators, at least at a certain level, by framingthem adequately and handling the relationship with journalists effectively. Once an issuehas been raised, others can make use of the public’s growing attention level to addresstheir points of view: they are ‘surfers on the waves of public opinion’ (Van Ginneken,2003: 273). For instance, a terror attack on trains and buses can evoke concerns about thesafety of public transport, and this can become a broad theme that includes the questionof who is responsible, and what can be done by ordinary travellers to help the police todetect dangerous situations and to protect themselves, or even questions of the role ofpublic transport in urban mobility.Planners cannot separate themselves from the turmoil that results from upcomingissues because this determines the social context in which they have to work. So theymay wisely follow the process of issue formation and its aftermath – especially how theinitial framing is adopted, contested or changed in the interaction between the involvedsocietal actors – and connect to this. They may often reflect on the question of what thepresent slumbering issues may be.Linking networksIt is an interesting phenomenon that the way people interact has itself a clear influenceon the creation of events and issues. We refer here to the network society concept (Castells1996, 2007), a society that is based on the quick exchange of information between everyplace on the globe. This ever-expanding network makes it possible for subgroups with ashared identity to keep in contact over longer distances. What happens in one place canbecome an item elsewhere, without any channelling by the official media. Of course, theinternet is here the main connecting vehicle. For instance, the riots in Paris in 2006 wereimmediately hot news on the outskirts of Brussels (luckily resulting in only a few incidents). NGOs operating in Europe as well as in Indonesia see the deterioration of tropicalforests, due to the profitable growing of palm as a result of the European trend to usepalm oil for the generation of green electricity, and create an event at the front door of abig Dutch electricity company. With great ease, they link the information from one placewith that from another, connecting different scales.We can also put it in other words. In former days, public opinion was heavily influenced by a dominating media system, strongly linked to the political authorities. It wasrecognizable and predictable. Now, people get their messages from a variety of sources,including from other people who are active via social media such as Twitter or Facebook.This has led to a disintegration of the communication platform and has made publicopinion much more fluid, split and self-organizing. So, what becomes an event for manyis based on the interplay between the networks themselves, thus adding considerably tothe complexity of modern society.Planners can only monitor how relevant networks are linking, and how eventuallyevents appear. To understand the underlying process is to get a better understanding ofthe connectedness the world over, and of the strength of weak ties (Granovetter, 1973),in order to grasp the emergence of events. The latter is interesting in its own right, as acultural fact, but knowing more about the background can facilitate more effective interaction with the people who provoke events. The message is clear: planners can no longerDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016154 Planning Theory 10(2)rely on their contacts with governmental authorities or even with the local media. Theyhave to look deeper into the social fabric to know what is going on and to deal with theeventualities.Scripts and plansLet us first look at plans. Deliberations lead to plans and plans lead to action. In practice this simple sequence is a complicated process, whereby interpretative frames arestrategically presented to achieve certain goals (Van Herzele, 2006). Frames are lookedupon in this context not as a way of thinking but as an instrument in interaction (for thedifference see: Dewulf et al., 2009). More precisely we could call them action frames,used to get certain things done in practice (e.g. regulations, procedures, allocation decisions; see: ’t Hart and Kleiboer, 1995). Of course, the effects of these framing activitiesdepend on the relational power of the actors. But the reverse holds true as well: communication is an important strategic instrument for gaining a powerful position(Mumby, 2001).The goals that are at stake here are not only addressing certain desirable outcomes(e.g. in land use) but also to decide which parties get which responsibilities in the execution. For instance, the scarcity of forests in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium,can be framed as the result of deforestation (defensive). In this case, authorities andcivic professionals are allocated the task of enhancing compliance with existing zoningplans by controlling the procedures, checking the concessions for the cutting of trees,and how sanctions are applied. If, on the contrary, it is framed as a need for more forests(offensive), authorities and planners have to allocate areas for afforestation, budgetshave to be reserved to acquire enough land, especially from farmers. Of course not allframing can effectively lead to plans. Usually, frames are in competition with each other,and it is this process in which certain frames become dominant at the cost of others thatis worthwhile to study.Scripts require more explanation. Scripts are routines, ways of doing things, but theseroutines are constantly changing, slowly perhaps, according to new realities. Scripts areembedded in social interaction, but often unreflected, without conscious consideration.For instance, the detected existence of dangerous chemical residues in the soil of newbuilding areas gives rise to different conventions for dealing with these risks, accordingto the community to which one belongs. Administrators think and talk in terms of responsibilities and costs to get rid of the contamination. Soil-engineers talk about the spreading of poison in the groundwater and technical ways to deal with it (digging it up andburning it elsewhere, in situ soil clearance, and so on). Communication experts talkabout the risk perception of the dwellers who would like to live there, or who live in theenvironment. They all have a way of approaching such a finding, leading to certain routines (Booher and Innes, 2006; Van Bueren et al., 2003). Planners have to be acquaintedwith the planning process, of course. The explicit procedures are the best known part, buthow they arrive at certain scripts stemming from a given speech culture whereby theyframe the situation in a special way, is less obvious. It needs internal reflectivity, in theirown group, to understand what is going on, and of course social learning about the scripting of others.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 155Feedback, assessmentsFrom practice we learn. More and more projects in planning are accompanied by evaluative research about the achieved effects – inasmuch as these effects meet the statedobjectives – and about the efficiency of the working method (process evaluations). Theseevaluations have to be interpreted and discussed, leading eventually to new, adaptedapproaches. For instance, in the Netherlands two big infrastructural projects (a new railway for the transportation of goods and a high-speed train) have ended up costing muchmore than was budgeted, causing much discussion.Feedback, however, occurs also in a less visible manner. As we have said, in theexecution of a plan new reactions appear that were not anticipated or could not have beenpredicted. This leads to small or greater adaptations. An example is the jurisprudence ofthe actual decision making in courts as compared with the formal law. These new practices could be reflected upon and lead to discussions as well. Another example is the useof geographic information systems (GIS) in planning practices.More intriguing is the feedback from scripts, from the emerging practices as theydevelop in a given context. Social scientists often deliver useful comments on theseculturally grounded practices, for instance regarding the routines of practitioners. Bydoing this, they orient themselves not to normative models about how professionalsshould operate, but to what they really do and why. But professionals could also participate in this evaluation (the reflective practitioner, Schön, 1983). Comments on the practices of actors involved in planning can also be derived from the media in their role ofcritically appraising new cultural trends. Often, however, a special event is the cause ofthis attention.InterferencesWherever one practice meets another practice there exists a real chance of interferences,which can result in all kinds of unexpected events. In the same way as social networksbecome more and more connected, practices do also. In planning, the merging of practicesis one of the most striking current developments. What used to be separate traditions –water management, housing, nature preservation, recreation, health and safety, education– are more and more interwoven, bringing professionals and other involved actorstogether, who were previously unknown to each other. But this merging is often stillunder way and this is where problems arise. The so-called path dependency of a multiplicity of separate practices makes it difficult to smoothly integrate everything. And thiscreates eventualities.A European example: agricultural practices to get rid of water surpluses as quickly aspossible, and urban water management, also directed at preventing any inconvenience inthe event of heavy rains, caused problems in downstream areas where recently completed housing projects near the river (‘nice views from your balcony’) were threatenedby floods. Many incidents resulted from this: people had to leave their houses to savethemselves. Similarly, we see harrowing situations in the field of health for groups ofillegal persons in the Netherlands, with sometimes dramatic incidents being the result ofa government system that tries to deny these people entry, an economic system thatDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016156 Planning Theory 10(2)profits gratefully from the availability of these cheap (illegal) workers, and a healthsystem that deals unsystematically with problems they encounter here.Planners have to be aware of this institutional factor that can bring quite unprogrammed effects. Reality is more and more human-made, but not always in a consistentway, especially not if we look at the overall picture. Yet, this is what planners have to do,forgetting – for a moment – their own system.DisturbancesIf we accept the idea that chance is an important source of change and that events arepowerful phenomena in the context of any planning process, we have to analyze howthese events can affect practices. Some events can be ignored perhaps, or can be dealtwith easily by making small adaptations. This is how most organizations act, due to theirinclination towards self-referentiality. Often, however, this policy will prove to beinsufficient.In the Netherlands, a recurrence of health plagues in animal production has forced theagricultural sector to reconsider many practices, including how farms operating on anindustrial scale are located vis-à-vis one another. So, spatial planning is affected, but alsothe traffic movements between centres of production and trade. Further examples: theheavy rains of the last few years have led to new procedures to assess the quality ofdikes; and incidents provoked by football fans forced the authorities and the police toembark on new policies for giving permission for certain games to be played and forcontrolling them to guarantee the safety of supporters.These events do have a direct impact on existing practices. Often, however, theseeffects are reinforced by a growing awareness in public opinion, created by the alarmedmedia: the left side of our model, leading to activities at the bottom side. We will cometo these dynamics shortly.Planners cannot neglect the incidents that their environment is offering. How theycope with relevant events is in the end decisive for the general picture about whichchange is needed. Maladjustment can be a source of concern in its own right.With this sketch of how the interplay between the three sources of change can take acertain form, we now come to the most intriguing theme, the dynamics of the model as awhole.The dynamics of the modelIt would be nice if we could find a theory to explain the movements in the model. Onecould, for instance, formulate such a theory on the basis of Holling’s (1995) model, theso-called adaptive cycle. This model is a universal model, applicable to natural resourcesas well as to social systems. In the version for social systems, there is a phase of (re)organization, what we have called social interaction. From this there is a growing exploitation, a slow, incremental movement which tends to lead to conservation (our ‘practices’).These practices lead to a few dominant types, ‘until the system eventually becomes soover connected that rapid change is triggered’ (Gladwell, 2001; Holling, 1995: 22). Forecological situations, ‘the agents of disturbances may be wind, fire, disease, insectDownloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 157outbreak or a combination of these’ (Holling, 1995: 22). We can relate this to our idea ofdisturbances by events, whereby a new cycle starts.This attractive theory is applied successfully to fields such as water management,where it can explain quite well the movements in Dutch water policy in the last decades(Maarleveld, 2003). The assumption, however, that a planned system must collapsebecause of its over-connectedness, and that events can suddenly lead to a turning point,from which everything will be different, is difficult to maintain as a general statement.Planning increasingly has become a multi-actor activity, and the resulting practices areoften far from tightly connected, partly due to the unplanned scripts in the groups thatare involved in the process, what has often been called the informal culture of organizations (Pepper, 1995). So we see this theory as a heuristic analytical tool in certaincircumstances.In fact, we believe that no general theory can explain what the sequence will be in themodel, where it starts and ends, nor its direction. Complexity theorists will point at theinherent instability of our environment as the starting point for new thinking and talking,and from this coping mechanism to new practices, which again can add to new eventualities. Scholars in the cultural domain will stress the fragmentation of the world today,leading to quite separated speech communities and the demolition of public opinion as acoherent entity, leading to quite different practices between which interferences occur,producing a lot of unpredictable events, and so on.So, we keep the model open to more than one explanatory theory. Change happens,but not in a way that follows one route.The consequences for plannersMaking a plan as a professional activity is one of the possibilities to induce change.Being able to see, interpret, and handle the plan making and other change-provokingphenomena in the broader context requires an analytic tool to make the work of planners more realistic and effective. In other words, this broader context should not belooked upon as an environment of fuzzy conditions and unpredictable dynamics,with which planners have to cope for better or worse. Instead, this environment mustbe a part of their professional field, with which they have to deal, but they also haveto be equipped ‘to accommodate uncertainty as a core ontological state of the world’(Gunder, 2008:198). This is needed in order to break with the inclination to selfreferentiality, resulting in denying the environment, as far as it does not support thereproduction of the current routines (Morgan, 1998). For this reason, we have constructed a model in which the practice of planning is geared to the other factors thatmay lead to change.For planners, this may mean an extension of their academic framework of thinkingand acting, and a broader curriculum, in which change by chance, by social interaction,and track-bound change is considered in a well-balanced manner, with special attentionto the interplay between these sources. Several developments in the world of planningare already oriented to this broader frame. Our model is meant to structure this newthinking in a meaningful way.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016158 Planning Theory 10(2)ReferencesAllmendinger P (2009) Planning Theory. Hampshire: Palgrave.Andersen E (2003) Be prepared for the unforeseen. Journal of Contingencies and CrisisManagement 11(3): 129–31.Bennis WG, Benne KD, and Chin R (eds) (1961) The Planning of Change. London: Holt, Rinehart &Winston.Booher DE and Innes JE, (2006) Complexity and adaptive policy systems: CALFED as an emergent form of governance for sustainable management of contested resources. Proceedingsfrom the 50th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Science (ISSS),July, 2006.Burnes B (2005) Complexity theories and organizational change. The International Journal ofManagement Reviews 7(2): 73–90.Castells M (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.Castells M (2007) Communication, power and counter-power in the network society. InternationalJournal of Communication 1(2007): 238–66.Cheney G and Christensen LT (2001) Organizational identity, linkages between internal and external communication. In: Jablin FM and Putnam LL (eds) The New Handbook of OrganizationalCommunication; Advances in Theory, Research and Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 231–69.Cobb RW and Elder CD (1983) Participation in American Policies; The Dynamics of AgendaBuilding. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Coleman PT (2006) Conflict, complexity, and change: A meta-framework for addressing protracted, intractable conflicts—III. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 12(4):325–48.Csikszentmihalyi M (1996) Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.New York: Harper Perennial.DeWulf A, Gray B, Putnam L, Aarts N, Lewicki R, Bouwen R and van Woerkum (2009) Disentangleapproaches to framing in conflict and negotiation research: A meta-paradigmatic perspective.Human Relations 62(2): 155–93.Dijksterhuis A (2004) Think different: The merits of unconscious thought in preference development and decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 87(5): 586–98.Dörner D (1996) The Logic of Failure. New York: Metropolitan Books.Ford JD (1999) Organisational change as shifting conversations. Journal of OrganisationalChange 12(6): 480–500.Ford JD, Ford LW and McNamara RT (2001) Resistance and the background conversations ofchange. Journal of Organizational Change 15(2): 105–121.Forester JF (2001) The deliberate practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Friedman AL and Miles S (2006) Stakeholders: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford UniversityPress.Gilchrist A (2000) The well-connected community: Networking to the ‘edge of chaos’ CommunityDevelopment Journal 35(3): 264–75Gladwell M (2001) The Tipping Point: How Little Things can Make a Big Difference. Boston, MA:Little Brown & Company.Granovetter M (1973) The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology 78(6): 1360–80.Gunder M (2008) Ideologies of certainty in a risky reality: Beyond the hauntology of planning.Planning theory 7(2): 186–206.Hoch CJ (2007) Pragmatic communicative action theory. Journal of Planning Education andResearch 26(3): 272–83.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016Woerkum et al. 159Holling CS (ed.) (1978) Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. Chichester: JohnWiley & Sons.Holling CS (1995) What barriers? What bridges? In: Gunderson LH, Holling CS and Light SS (eds)Barriers and Bridges: To the Renewal of Ecosystems and Institutions. New York: ColumbiaUniversity Press, 5–34.Israzábal C (2009) Realizing planning’s emancipatory promise: Learning from regime theory tostrengthen communicative action. Planning Theory 8(2): 115–139.Jarzabkowski P (2005) Strategy as Practice; An Activity Based Approach. London: Sage.Kingdon JW (1984) Agendas, Policies and Public Choices. New York: Harper Collins.Latour B (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford:Oxford University Press.Maarleveld M (2003) Social Environmental Learning for Sustainable Natural ResourceManagement. Dissertation. Wageningen University, Wageningen.Merton RK (1957) Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: The Free Press.Mintzberg H (1994) The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning: Reconceiving Roles for Planning,Plans, Planners. New York: The Free Press.Montuori A and Purser RE (eds) (1999) Social Creativity. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.Morgan G (1998) Images of Organization, The Executive Edition. London: Sage.Mumby DK, (2001) Power and politics. In: Jablin FM and Putnam LL (eds.) The New Handbookof Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research and Methods. ThousandOaks, CA: Sage, 585–623.Pepper GL (1995) Communicating in Organizations: A cultural approach. New York: McGrawHill.Portugali J (2008) Learning from paradoxes about prediction and planning in self-organizing cities. Planning Theory 7(3): 248–62.Qvortrup L, (2006) Understanding new digital media: Medium theory or complexity theory?European Journal of Communication 21(3): 345–56.Rittel HWJ and Webber M (1973) Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences 4:155–69.Rogers EM, Medina UE, Rivera MA and Wiley CH (2005) Complex adaptive systems and the diffusion of innovations. The Innovation Journal: The Public Dector Innovation Journal 10(3):article 30, 1–26.Sandercock L (1998) The death of modernist planning: Radical praxis for a postmodern age. In:Douglass M and Friedmann J (eds) Cities for Citizens: Planning and The Rise of Civil Societyin a Global Age. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Scheffer M (2009) Critical Transitions in Nature and Society. Princeton: Princeton UniversityPress.Schön DA (1983) The Reflective Practitioner. New York: Basic Books.Stacey RD, Griffin D and Shaw P (2000) Complexity and Management; Fad or Challenge toSystems Thinking? London: Routledge.‘tHart P and Kleiboer M (1995) Policy controversies in the negotiatory state. Knowledge andPolicy 8(4): 5–25.Timmermans J (2004) Purposive Interaction in Multi-Actor Decision Making. Delft, TheNetherlands: Eburon Academic Publishers.Urry J (2004) The ‘System’ of Automobility. Theory, Culture and Society 21: 25–39.Van Bueren EM, Klijn EH and Koppenjan JFM (2003) Dealing with wicked problems in networks: Analyzing an environmental debate from a network perspective. Journal of PublicAdministration Research and Theory 13(2): 193–212.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016160 Planning Theory 10(2)Van Ginneken J (2003) Collective Behavior and Public Opinion; Rapid Shifts in Opinion andCommunication. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Van Herzele A (2006) A forest for each city and town: Story lines in the policy debate for urbanforests in Flanders. Urban Studies 43(3): 673–96.Van Lieshout M and Aarts N (2008) ‘Outside is where it is at!’ Youth and immigrants’ perspectiveson public space. Space and Culture 11(4): 497–513.Van Woerkum CMJ (2003) Orality and external communication. Documents Design 4(2): 104–12.Van Woerkum C and Aarts N (2008) The orientation of organizations to their environments: Thefunctions of the unconscious mind. The Journal of Public Relations Research 20(2): 180–206.Van Woerkum CMJ and Aarts MNC (2008) Staying connected: The communication betweenorganizations and their environment. Corporate Communications: An International Journal13(2):197–211.Van Woerkum CMJ, Aarts MNC and de Grip K (2007) Creativity, planning and organizationalchange. Journal of Organizational Change Management 20(6): 847–65.Wals AEJ (ed.) (2007) Social Learning Towards a Sustainable World. Wageningen, TheNetherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers.Cees van Woerkum is Professor of Communication Science and Head of theCommunication Strategies Group of Wageningen University. His research focuses oninteractive policy making and organization–environment relationships in the domain oflife sciences (water, soil, climate, food and health, and agriculture). Planning issues arean important part of his concern, including the relationship between planning and creativity, and planning in complex situations.Noelle Aarts is Professor of Strategic Communication at the University of Amsterdamand Associate Professor of Communication Strategies at Wageningen University.Focusing on conversations between people, she studies and teaches inter-human processes and communication for creating space for change, in governmental organizations, in NGOs and in commercial companies. She has published on several topics suchas strategic communication of organizations, negotiating environmental policies, competing claims in public space, dealing with ambivalence concerning farm animal welfare and self-organization and network-building for regional innovation and multipleland-use.Ann Van Herzele is currently a Senior Social Science Researcher at the Research Institutefor Nature and Forest (INBO) in Brussels, Belgium. She holds degrees in forestry (1979),environmental impact assessment (1997), and received a PhD in social sciences (2005)from Wageningen University. She has a longstanding experience both in practice andresearch in the field of spatial and environmental planning, including the participation ofvarious users and stakeholders in the process. Much of her work has focused on discourse and practice in the broad field of green space planning and management.Downloaded from at PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIV on March 5, 2016


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *