Industrial revitalization and complex adaptive systems: a framework for exploring the context of collaborative planning

Carissa J. Champlin, Timo Hartmann, Geert P.M.R. Dewulf, Johannes Flacke

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

63 Downloads (Pure)


Although planning support systems (PSS) are meant to facilitate the implementation of innovative social or technological urban solutions, usability studies show a bottleneck in the adoption of these IT systems. One explanation is that IT developers are too far removed from the planning environment. Therefore, they lack important contextual knowledge concerning the diverse interests that steer the interactions of growing numbers of stakeholders in their response to economic and environmental uncertainty. Consequently, practitioners perceive PSS designs to be too technical and not sufficiently responsive to their needs for adaptability and process integration.
This paper aims to better inform PSS design through a method that explores conditions of high complexity and uncertainty in industrial revitalization projects. By applying the three main principles of complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory – agents, their interactions and the environment within which they interact – we identify the individual contextual variables that create a collective landscape of uncertainty and complexity, and we reveal the need for planning practitioners to respond flexibly to changes in the planning environment. We use these CAS principles to analyze the collaborative planning process of an industrial revitalization project on the Dutch-German border. Outcomes from this exercise suggest that key stakeholders seek to balance power imbalances for the purpose of collaboration; through balanced dialogue, key stakeholders can turn potential threats to collaboration into creative new ideas; identifying stakeholder interests in specific tasks can help to organize effective forums for collaboration and pre-existing physical, social and regulatory structures largely determine early-stage planning objectives. These findings represent key contextual knowledge to inform PSS design in promotion of practitioner adoption.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2013
EventEURA Conference 2013: Cities as seedbeds for innovation - University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 4 Jul 20136 Jul 2013


ConferenceEURA Conference 2013
Abbreviated titleEURA
Internet address


  • METIS-299162


Dive into the research topics of 'Industrial revitalization and complex adaptive systems: a framework for exploring the context of collaborative planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this