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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conflict and resource development McKellar, Richard David


Interorganisational conflict is common when public resources are developed for the benefit of identifiable private interest groups. In many instances it is not advisable or possible to avoid such conflict, but rather the conflict situation should be addressed and if possible managed to avoid environmentally, economically or socially destructive outcomes. In this thesis I discuss how conflict might be addressed in resource development planning, specifically using the context of the route selection and site design levels of planning for linear transportation corridors in wilderness areas. First I trace the planning and implementation histories of three corridors to determine the "foci" and outcomes of conflict in these instances. Then, using a systems approach to planning and decision-making, I determine those aspects of the planning and decision-making system which generated the conflict foci and which were therefore inappropriate or suboptimal. From this I suggest ways by which the system might be improved. Thereafter I review some of the recent conflict management literature and propose a conflict management model having the following elements: i) use of a mediating agency with the authority to require involvement in the planning process but without the authority to impose a plan or solution; ii) involvement of representatives of all major interest groups; iii) analysis of the situation into its cognitive, interest and value components, and analysis and discussion of these components; and iv) having a means of overcoming well-defined deadlocks in the process in a manner that' is appropriate in a democratic society. These elements are substantially similar to the suggestions for improvements to the planning and decision-making system made earlier. Next I review in detail the involvement of different organisations in the planning process for one of the corridors previously studied, and compare it with the conflict management model: i) no mediating agency with the authority outlined above was involved; ii) the involvement of some interest groups was not welcomed or permitted by the proponent agency; iii) only cognitive information was used in discussions and this was not usually objectively developed or verified but rather was disputed; iv) there was no attempt to clearly define the pertinent issues and defined method of overcoming deadlocks. Finally I suggest how the planning and decision-making process for the corridor might have occured had the conflict management model been utilised.

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