Making Sense of Competing Expectations – Paradoxes in Strategic Spatial Planning
Keywords:stakeholder participation, strategic spatial planning, participatory planning, sensemaking, sensegiving, paradoxes
The presence of multiple and diverse stakeholders is a common feature of public sector governance. This study focused on the process of stakeholder participation, aiming to define stakeholders’ expectations of a regional spatial plan and then uncover paradoxes in these expectations. Sensemaking and sensegiving were used as a theoretical lens to explore reasons for the paradoxical expectations.
A Swedish case was used to qualitatively explore the initial stage of a stakeholder participation process regarding strategic spatial planning. The main empirical material comprised observations and interviews.
Diverse stakeholders’ expectations were captured through the identification of four paradoxes, relating to the level of guidance, prioritization of stakeholders, ambition, and time horizon. With sensemaking theory as a theoretical lens, the paradoxes could be understood through mental models, emotions, narratives, and social factors. The findings show the importance of creating a shared understanding among stakeholders, with sensegiving standing out as especially important.
The idea of stakeholder participation and consensus building is a debated topic. The current study contributes to this field by focusing on the process and on stakeholders’ diverse expectations, using paradox theory to identify and define expectations and sensemaking theory to explore why these paradoxes exist.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Lisa Källström, Elin Smith
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