New research has found that urban planning and regional development in general are a wicked game. The normal storyline of urban planning involves a limited number of experts. A good way to get more views about the wicked issues is to involve citizens. The literature sees collaboration as a successful way to understand the wickedness. The research was done in collaboration with the departments of Regional studies and Social and health management in the University of Vaasa by Niklas Lundström, Harri Raisio, Pirkko Vartiainen and Juha Lindell. The results are published in an article in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.
Wicked problems are problems with no definitive problem formulation or answers. The idea of a wicked game is new and brings the players into the core of the wickedness. In the wicked game, the players try to solve the problems but at the same time their subjective viewpoints create the wickedness.
"The idea of a wicked game was presented in my doctoral thesis" says Dr. Niklas Lundström from the University of Vaasa. "Usually wicked problems are seen as 'something out there'. According to the gaming perspective it is the players who also create the problems when trying to adapt to the surroundings. They also try to solve these issues in the game. Every player brings his own subjective views into the game."
"We saw a good link between urban planning and the Citizens' Juries carried out beforehand. They were based on the idea of deliberative democracy. We analyzed how the Citizens' Juries can bring new players -- citizens -- to the wicked game of urban planning. Citizens' perspective is easy to forget as usually the experts play the game."
The four Citizens' Juries analyzed were carried out in different kinds of cities in Finland. They all touched upon the issue of urban planning. The analysis was built on the multidimensional evaluation model.
The results show that there are opportunities in participative methods. The Citizens' Jury is a good way to introduce new players to the wicked game and thus helps us to get better understanding about the wickedness through a collaborative playing field. The biggest obstacle is to change the normal storyline into a more deliberative one which also includes the citizens' perspectives. Participation itself is not a definitive answer to wicked problems but can help us to get better understanding about them.
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