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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community based workstyle Courtney, Lyle George


In Greater Vancouver, like other cities subject to rapid growth, plans have been implemented to relieve many stresses related to land use and transportation. In the 1970s, these included building regional town centres, improving transit sys-tem capacity, and expanding suburban work places, all to reduce negative effects of separating work from residence. A major 1990 household survey indicates these physical infrastructure changes slowed the rate of increase of associated stress-ors. However, critical review of GVRD regional town centre policy sees initial outcomes as 'Edge City' clones, rather than the intended integrated communities. This study examines community based workstyle, denoting preferences for ways of working, within a multi-centred urban region, using systemic concepts and empirical data. The main conclusion is that physical infrastructure intervention alone is insufficient to deal with urban work culture stress. What also must be addressed are changes in work organization and community planning, with due recognition of individual values, motivations and behaviours. This implies a consensual approach, with decision making on a more iterative and participatory basis. Present approaches are traced to Taylorist management and master planning, both traditions derived from closed systems thinking and structure based on detailed central control. Since systems are open, such approaches are incapable of dealing with evident needs for adaptability and flexibility. This study develops an alternative model referred to as community based workstyle, composed of factors affecting individual preferences, organizational needs, and interactions with the community and landscape. Flexible workstyle and community based planning are viable constructs forming a basis for more ecocentric planning options. Evidence of changing community values is based on the Vancouver Urban Futures Projects of 1973 and 1990, complemented by field research targeted on mid-level information workers, and case studies in flexible workstyle. Values are shifting from rigidity to flexibility, from top-down to bottom-up organization, and from segregated to variegated and visible communities. This has implications for organizing work and designing urban regions. The systemic approach is found to be conceptually and methodologically appropriate to broadly based, qualitative research in geography.

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