University of Oulu

Land-use planning as inter-organizational learning

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Author: Mäntysalo, Raine1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Technology, Department of Architecture
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 7.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2000
Publish Date: 2000-12-04
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented with the assent of the Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, for public discussion in the City Library of Oulu (Auditorium Pakkala-sali), Oulu, on January 19th, 2001, at 12 noon.
Reviewer: Academy Professor Yrjö Engeström
Architect, Doc.Phil. Kimmo Lapintie


The aim of the study is to reveal the nature of learning in local land-use planning activity and to examine the possibilities for the development of planning as a form of learning activity. The theoretical approach draws on the pragmatist and dialectical reorientation of systems theory and the related theory of learning organizations. The traditional, positivist systems approach to land-use planning is considered both to depoliticize planning and to make it unreflective. Critical theory as a basis of planning theory is also shown to be inadequate. Communicative planning theories that draw on critical theory are rather theories of emancipation in the context of planning than theories of planning per se. An alternative systems-theoretical view to land-use planning activity is presented, where critical and constructive aspects as well as ethical and pragmatic aspects are interlinked in the dialectical dynamics of planning as organizational and inter-organizational learning activity.

Three subsystems within the system of local land-use planning are identified: expertise, politics and economics. The subsystems of land-use planning build upon the basic distinction between legitimate and illegitimate conduct. For each subsystem, the context of its existence is formed by the interaction of all subsystems. By acting, each subsystem inevitably changes its dialectical relationship to this context. Harmful changes are felt within the subsystem as inner contradictions that interfere with its decision-making activity. If the subsystem is unable to face these contradictions but instead resorts to the use of pathological power, they may develop into paralyzing double bind situations. The resolution of a double bind situation requires expansive learning by the subsystem.

However, there are also contradictions in land-use planning that the subsystems are unable to resolve by expansive learning. Such inter-systemic contradictions stem from the dialectical relationship between the overriding requirement of legitimacy on one hand and the basic goals of expert knowledge and economic profit on the other. In the study a hypothesis is formulated, according to which these basic - and, in the conditions of modern society, permanent - contradictions in local land-use planning require such inter-organizational learning, which enables the creation of planning solutions that provide means for their task-related harmonization, and, in the longer term, contributes to the emergence of a participative planning culture where the contradictions can be handled legitimately, if not resolved.

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Series: Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. C, Technica
ISSN-E: 1796-2226
ISBN: 951-42-5844-4
ISBN Print: 951-42-5843-6
Issue: 155
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2000. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.