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Title:Comparative planning in practice: identifying the cultural and behavioral barriers to learning from international sustainability solutions
Author(s):Timm, Stephanie N
Director of Research:Deal, Brian
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Deal, Brian
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Dearborn, Lynne; Wilson, Bev; Pallathucheril, Varkki; Cvetkovic, Vladimir
Department / Program:Urban & Regional Planning
Discipline:Regional Planning
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Comparative Urban Planning
Abstract:This dissertation is composed of three separate but related papers that address if and how practicing planners can identify the cultural and behavioral barriers to learning from international sustainability solutions. Chapter 2 starts by acknowledging that analytical frameworks examining the international flow of concepts, practices, and techniques ("traveling ideas" or "international best practices") most often call for the slow and critical examination of these ideas prior to local adaptation. However, in fast-paced working environments where planners are challenged to urgently address environmental and social issues, this paper uncovers how these analytical frameworks are actually interpreted in practice. Building on existing comparative planning literature, semi-structured interviews with public sector planners from both the City of Chicago and the City of Stockholm were conducted in order to 1) explore the extent to which planners from each city utilize international best practices in relation to sustainability; and 2) when these best practices are used, understand the planners' evaluation process in determining if the practice could or should be adapted for their city’s use. The insights and reflections garnered from this study were used to identify potential factors that influence successful translation of sustainability solutions across contexts. Chapter 3 puts the findings from Chapter 2 in a specific context by aiming to uncover the key behavioral barriers to translating Singapore's high reclaimed water public acceptance rate and successful conservation strategies to different contexts. A national mail survey (n=218) utilizing the Theory of Planned Behavior framework (Ajzen, 1991) was conducted. The survey indicates that 74 percent of Singaporeans generally approve of NEWater. A positive attitude toward NEWater was the most significant variable in predicting respondent’s general approval. Furthermore, of the 7 specific water behaviors the Singaporean Public Utilities Board is trying to encourage, we found that fixing water leaks promptly (80.8%) and monitoring water bills (80.3%) are the most widely adopted, while washing dishes under a filled sink (11.7%) was the least adopted. Path analysis of the data showed that engagement in water conservation behaviors was most influenced by an individual's perceived social norms. Building off of Chapter 3, where we discuss the behavioral barriers to Singapore's integrated water management plan, Chapter 4 explores the cultural barriers to translating Singapore's successful water conservation strategies. Fieldwork in the form of interviews and participant observation was conducted over a period of 9 months in Singapore. This qualitative data was analyzed using Hofstede's dimensions of national culture framework. We find that Singapore's national culture has played a significant role in the overall success of their water planning and management strategies. Differences in specific national cultural dimensions such as power distance and individualism could act as barriers to successfully translating Singapore's success to different countries. We propose simple, straightforward recommendations for identifying and addressing these cultural barriers. Chapter 5 is a general discussion on the entire dissertation with a review of the work, methods and significant findings along with their policy and other implications. I conclude the piece with an exploration of future work.
Issue Date:2016-07-15
Rights Information:2016 Stephanie Nicole Timm
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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