Week 5: Problematizing write-up
The focus of this week’s write-up presents my problematizing process. The exercise summarizes how my workplace-based problem of NIMBY resistance to our hierarchical leadership approach was reframed after the problematizing process. From the literature, my problem was significantly reframed after realizing that the NIMBY opposition was a result of organizational culture change and leadership transformation that failed to reflect the ideals of the local community.
How my workplace problem has been redefined?
In 2014, my construction company won a tender to construct a power plant in Abu Dhabi. By the end of 2014, our management team had constituted the required business plan and prepared for the approval process. However, the zoning commission refused to grant us the construction license. Why? Neighboring residents at the proposed site formed an opposition group to reject the proposed development. According to the residents, the project was located too near their homes, increasing the risk of health hazards. So as the director of quality control in my construction company, how should I handle this workplace dilemma?
Following the problematizing process, my workplace problem has significantly been redefined. Initially, I presented my workplace problem as an external social-political pressure. However, after undertaking a Critical Literature Review, I realized that my definition was ambiguous. Instead, the construction industry refers to this problem as the NIMBY resistance. NIMBY stands for “not in my backyard,” and the concept works to oppose proposed land development near existing residential areas. I concluded that a more precise work-based focus should address the NIMBY resistance instead of focusing on the initially presented social-political challenges.
Support from my CLR to solving my identified problem
Much of the literature on NIMBY resistance has focused on construction projects that present health and environmental health hazards to the adjacent population (Hunter & Leyden, 1995; Klineberg et al., 1998). In regard with my workplace-based, there is a consensus that three major factors influence the NIMBY resistance, or acceptance, to a new project near their residential facilities. One, the perceived threat of the project to safety and health of the locals (Pollock et al., 1992). In my case, this means that the more the local community identifies with the potential hazards emerging from our project, the more likely they will oppose it.
Two, the CLR also highlighted that NIMBY opposition diminishes if locals believe the facility will benefit them (Klineberg et al., 1998). In elaboration, this means that in our proposed power plant project, the locals are willing to accept our project development if it meets an essential demand. Three, trust in the officials responsible for the construction of the power plant also influences the NIMBY attitudes (Smith and Marquez 2000). In line with our current construction project, this means that opposition to our operations will decrease if our management culture reflects the ideals of the local community.
Pollock et al. (1992) advises that if an organization gets entangled in NIMBY resistance, cultural analysis should be carried out to facilitate the planning and execution of organizational practices that reflect the needs of the resisting communities. Understanding culture was crucial in two ways. The obtained cultural insights enabled me to examine the extent our members were willing to accept change, and cultural assessment formed the backbone in determining the root cause of our problems that impeded stronger organizational performance. I learned that initial resistance to our operations emerged from poor communication between the community and the project representatives. In the case of such events, Klineberg et al. (1998) warn organizations not to wait for the NIMBY opposition to grow, but should introduce culture change and begin to build trust.
Evolution of my desired outcomes
At individual and organizational level, the desired outcome was to understand and resolve the NIMBY resistance. Professor Amoo advised me that I could better understand my workplace problem if I could research published research articles that shed conceptual light on my work-based problem. Vanja challenged me to consider how the use of “collective genius,” in my organization setting could help me solve my work-based problem. Assad also encouraged me that I could further understand my problem by bringing more awareness to each evolutionary thought from a fresher perspective, rather than being stuck in negative assumptions. From the CLR, I learned that local opposition can be mitigated through collaboration, being open, and presenting factual information to NIMBY groups.
Understanding, resolving and implementing solutions
The concepts and ideas learned from this module have largely swayed how I have understood my work-based problem. Through the use of relevant literature like the concepts of sensemaking (Bartunek et al., 2006) and perceiving a change as an opportunity instead of a crisis (Brockner & James, 2008), it is possible to prepare adequately to resolve the underlying crisis. Input from Professor Amoo played a vital role in understanding and reframing of my work-based problem. With his patience, enlightenment and kindness I was able to properly approach my identified problem using relevant concepts from CLR, thereby comprehending and resolving my work-based issue from considerably new perspective I initially lacked.
Moving forward in the problem-solving process
From the literature findings, sharing factual information (Wright, 1993), eliminating uncertainty, and being collaborative can win NIMBY support for our operations (Klineberg et al., 1998). In the next assignment, I reframe my work-based problem based on the concepts and theories obtained from previous weeks. I will identify and create a local register for residents who are undecided, against, or in favor of our project (Devine-Wright, 2005). Probably, a pro-group in support of our project would have emerged.
CLR, learning set contributions and the module concepts have played a primary role towards my problematizing process. Compared to my vaguely defined problem of external social-political pressure, the CLR has enabled me to affirm that the primary change strategy was to rightly position our organizational and leadership culture to match the ideals of the local communities. In the coming assignments, I anticipate to reframe my problem as I begin to take action.
Bartunek, J., Rousseau, D., Rudolph, J., & DePalma, J. (2006). On the receiving end: Sensemaking, emotion and assessments of an organizational change initiated by others. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 42(2), 182-206.
Brockner, J., & James, E. (2008). Toward an understanding of when executives see the crisis as an opportunity. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 44(1), 94-115.
Devine-Wright, P. (2005). Beyond NIMBYism: Towards an Integrated Framework for Understanding Public Perceptions of Power Projects. Wind Energy, 8, 125-139.
Hunter, S., & Leyden, K. M. (1995). Beyond NIMBY: Explaining Opposition to Hazardous Waste Facilities. Policy Studies Journal, 23(4), 601-619.
Klineberg, S. L., McKeever, M., & Bert, R. (1998). Demographic predictors of environmental concern: It does make a difference how it’s measured. Social Science Quarterly, 79(4), 734-753.
Pollock, A., Philip, H., Elliot, V., & Stuart, A. L. (1992). Who Says It’s Risky Business? Public Attitudes Toward Hazardous Waste Facility Siting. Polity , 24(3), 499-513.
Smith, E. R., & Marisela, M. A. (2000). The Other Side of the NIMBY Syndrome. Society and Natural Resources , 13(1), 273-280.
Wright, S. (1993). Citizen Information Levels and Grassroots Opposition to New Hazardous Waste Sites: Are NIMBYists Informed? Waste Management , 13(3), 253-259.
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