Collaborative Urban Planning: Applications of the Auckland Experience to Vancouver Island

Notes from a Director’s Dialogue
Tuesday, October 6, 2009, 12:00- – 1:30 p.m.
Room A373 (Tom Shoyama Boardroom)
School of Public Administration
Human and Social Development Building
University of Victoria – Victoria, BC, Canada

Collaborative Urban Planning: Applications of the Auckland Experience to Vancouver Island

Dr. Jim Sheffield, Senior Lecturer
University of Auckland’s Business School in Information Systems and University of Victoria at Wellington’s Management School

Abstract: Collaborative regional planning entails a degree of confusion and conflict. A model based Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action is developed retrospectively to describe an intervention in comprehensive urban planning. Territorial authorities met to strategically evaluate a comprehensive 30-year plan for the Auckland region, the fastest growing area of New Zealand. Some aspects of the meeting were electronically supported by Group Support Systems (GSS). Qualitative measures were obtained of the degree of confusion (lack of understanding) and conflict (lack of trust) before and after the meeting, and participant performance and satisfaction with electronic discourse. The focus question is “Do electronic discourses enhance participant’s understanding and trust in regional planning?” The application of the Auckland experience to Vancouver Island is discussed.

Notes from Seminar:

Introduction by Evert Lindquist (Director, School of Public Administration); Roundtable Introductions.

Jim Sheffield: Do electronic discourses enhance understanding and trust?


Design Theory: systems, planning, design theory

(provides example of Habermasian design framework – friend exclaiming “I love Wellington” – evaluating in terms of 1. truth content; 2. rightness of the context; 3. sincerity of the speaker)

Architecture Framework

Application to Auckland Experience – spaghetti wiring diagram

strategic evaluation of 30 regional growth plan; based on growth scenarios.Electronically supported NGT exercises

Starting point: – uninformative and fragmentary briefing documents; conceptual confusion; intransigence.

Electronic discourse system: text-based deliberation commenting on planning proposals.

Scenarios were undifferentiated – but consensus emerged around scenario 1

Dr. Jim Sheffield is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland’s Business School in Information Systems and at University of Victoria at Wellington’s Management School. Dr. Sheffield has a PhD in Business Administration (University of Arizona, USA), an MBA (University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA), MSc in Physics (University of Auckland), and a BSc in Mathematics and Physics (University of Auckland). His doctoral work at the University of Arizona in group support systems led to the creation of a Decision Support Centre at the University of Auckland. He has designed, implemented and evaluated more than 100 action research initiatives. Most of these initiatives centred on complex inter-organisational situations involving considerable confusion and conflict. Dr. Sheffield’s major action research initiatives include the development of economic strategy, science policy, and comprehensive regional planning. His current research interests include: Analytical frameworks for intervention design; ethical inquiry; group support systems; knowledge management; and research methods.

In addition to Dr. Sheffield’s  body of professional and research work, his most recent publications include “Pluralism in Knowledge Management: A Review”, in press with the International Journal of Knowledge Management, and “A Paradigmatic and Methodological Examination of Knowledge Management Research: 2000-2004” in Decision Support Systems Vol.44, pp. 673-688 (with Z. Guo).


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