On Thursday 4 June 2020, S.K. van Broekhoven will defend her PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Boundaries in Action. Managing boundaries in integrative land use initiatives’.
Measures that integrate different land use functions can potentially create synergies between functions and provide ecological and socio-economical services simultaneously and thereby lead to a more sustainable development. An example is green-blue urban infrastructures where functions as water management, nature development, recreation and community building are combined. However, although the potential benefits make integration attractive and initiatives for multifunctional land use often see wide support, this research shows that integrative initiatives are hard to achieve. Realising integration (involving a multitude of actors, sectors and public and private organisations related to particular functions) involves important governance challenges.
A main challenge is that realising integrated initiatives requires actors to work across social, cognitive, and physical boundaries (e.g. of organisations, sectors, but also in ideas and tasks). This research provides insight in effective integration by analysing where boundaries emerge and are spanned, but also are drawn, contested, defended and negotiated in integrative processes, and what kind of boundary management helps to realise integrating functions. This is done by qualitative and longitudinal research of three cases of multifunctional land use in The Netherlands.
The research concludes that in addition to boundary spanning strategies, drawing boundaries can also be beneficial to realise effective integration at different moment during the process. I find four patterns: Firstly, to work across boundaries, boundaries first need to be created, strengthened and explicated so as to create an understanding and respect for each other, whilst also connecting where possible (e.g. by working on a joint vision, organising formal and informal interaction). Secondly, after a period of spanning and challenging boundaries, reconstructing boundaries can help to keep the process manageable, provide safety and maintain autonomy. Thirdly, challenging boundaries is often necessary to realise integration, but actors can and should expect this will lead to conflicts and internal discussions. Lastly, the different dimensions of boundaries need to be addressed together and in a coherent manner to successfully manage boundaries in integrative processes.
In short, attention for organising boundaries is important to be able to realise the benefits of integrating land use functions.
The PhD defences will not take place publicly in the Senate Hall or Professor Andries Queridoroom due to the coronavirus. The candidates will defend their thesis online.