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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A methodology for assessing the metropolitan locational flexibility of offices Sikstrom, Brian Murray

Abstract

The initial premise of the thesis is that the question of metropolitan locational flexibility of offices — or the capability of offices to decentralize activities outside downtown but within the same metropolitan area — needs to be investigated and objectively assessed. It is apparent from the review of the literature no approach or method so far employed to assess office locational flexibility is suitable for use by the researcher and probably for Canadian urban planners and office location decision-makers. The thesis concentrates, therefore, on development and testing on federal government offices in Vancouver of a new method for assessment of metropolitan office locational flexibility. From the literature review ten inter-related factors and their possible influences on office locational flexibility are identified and form a framework or "Criteria Check List" for examination and evaluation of office locational flexibility. In the Criteria Check List methodology analysis of all ten factors and their locational flexibility influences on federal government offices is undertaken in three stages. The first stage, a quantitative and qualitative analysis of six "internal" factors (nature of activity/work; frequency, character and pattern of contacts; prestige; office establishment size and organizational structure; rate of growth and organizational change; tradition) is based on existing information collected for each of 15 sample federal departments. "Working Departmental Composite Sheets", "Indicators", and a point and weighting system are the major tools developed by the researcher to obtain a comparative evaluation of sample federal departments. Federal departments are classified as "most locationally flexible", "locationally flexible", "locationally inflexible" and "most locationally inflexible". In the second stage, information gleaned largely from library research on the four "external" factors ("general" and "special" physical accessibility downtown; metropolitan telecommunications and transportation systems; metropolitan Vancouver office market; planning and politics) is examined qualitatively and a synopsis of the "climate" for federal office locational flexibility in Vancouver presented. The third stage of the analysis is a synthesis of the findings from the two previous stages. The thesis presents conclusions about the methodology and conclusions derived from specific findings on federal office locational flexibility resulting from the testing of the methodology. The chief conclusion, with respect to the latter, is that federal offices have considerable metropolitan office locational flexibility but that prestige; tradition; "general" and "special" accessibility; and the metropolitan office market are prominent factors to be overcome if federal offices are to be relocated in Regional Town Centres. Of the fifteen federal departments examined office locational flexibility is found to be greatest for Supply and Services; Transport; Public Works; Energy, Mines and Resources; Unemployment Insurance; Manpower and Immigration; and Fisheries and Environment departments. The major methodological conclusion is that the Criteria Check List provides a much needed framework for clear thinking on, and examination of, the broad range of inter-related factors which affect office locational flexibility. Its use in the process of office location decision-making and/or planning could provide a rational basis with which perceived locational needs and preferences of offices could be called into question.

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