Planning for Sustainability

Lærke Maria Knoth Kaagaard

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Cand.Soc. programme Management of Creative Business Processes is concerned with management of creative and complex processes which often contain a high level of uncertainty and ambiguity. Likewise, urban planning involves management, creativity, story telling, and is often both complex and uncertain. The thesis is a qualitative study with the aim of investigating why urban planners can carry out projects of sustainable urban development when the notion of sustainability is ambiguous. Four planners of different professions constitute the primary empirical data sources. There are numerous definitions and theories about managing sustainable urban developments. Hence, this thesis does not attempt to provide a new definition or suggest how it should be managed but instead to qualitatively investigate multiple empirical sources in order to highlight the dynamics of managing projects of sustainable urban development.The findings are • that planners have diverse notions of sustainability that build on both mainstream definitions and individual interpretations. In order to cope with ambiguity, planners operate in an ad hoc way with sustainability and use their creativity to respond to complex problems. • that the planners work with sustainability in different ways that highlight their own agendas. Their work is constructed in a dialogue between past, present, and future practices. Planners are thus able to accommodate to each others’ practices and participate in the social construction of sustainability. The conclusion and answer to the main research question is that • planners are able to carry out projects of sustainable urban developments because the concept of sustainability is of a ‘carnivalesque’ property which enables it to encompass different perceptions and practices. Sustainability is hence a framework in which diverging opinions and practices are allowed.In order to answer the research questions, the thesis applies theories of sustainability and planning. In order to capture and make sense of the ambiguity, dialogism is applied in the analysis. The purpose of the thesis is not to generalise about all sustainability projects. Instead it proposes ways of understanding and perceiving the social phenomena of sustainability and planning for it.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016