Developing a planning theory for wicked problems: Swarm planning

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Swarm Planning, 2014, pp. 67 - 89
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Climate change adaptation is seen as a wicked (VROM-raad 2007; Commonwealth of Australia 2007) or even a superwicked (Lazarus 2009) problem. A wicked problem is accurately defined in the seminal paper of Rittel and Webber: ‘‘Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning’’ (Rittel and Webber 1973). Wicked problems are defined as being dynamic, they do not know a final solution, are ‘‘a one shot operation’’ and essentially unique. As planners, we do not have the right to be wrong. Spatial planning is defined in many different ways. Dror for example (1973) describes planning as a process: ‘‘Planning is the process of preparing a set of decisions for action in the future, directed at achieving goals by preferable means’’. In the course of this paper spatial planning is defined as the ‘co-ordination, making and mediation of space’ (Gunder and Hillier 2009, 4). Current (and historic) discourses in spatial planning, such as incrementalism (referring to Lindblom 1959), post-positivism (as described in Allmendinger 2002), communicative planning (amongst others: Habermas 1987, 1993; Healey 1997; Innes 2004), agonism (see: (Mouffe 1993, 2005; Hillier 2003; Pløger 2004), reflexive planning (Beck et al. 2003; Lissandrello and Grin 2011) or even the actor network approach (Boelens 2010) do have considerable difficulties to deal with wicked problems, or solutions, or fail to take wicked problems as the subject of planning. Hence, the need for an alternative theory emerges. In this paper this theory, Swarm Planning, is explored and developed.
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