Mehr Gestalten als Verwalten : Administrative AkteurInnen als GestalterInnen multilateraler Kommunikationsprozesse in integrierter Stadtentwicklung

  • More creation than administration : Administrative actors as designers of multilateral communication processes in integrated urban development

Zalas, Lucyna Joanna; Förster, Agnes (Thesis advisor); Selle, Klaus (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : RWTH Aachen University (2021)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 2021


The guiding principle of integrated urban development is currently governing the planning sciences not only in terms of content but also in terms of process. Integrated urban development projects are not only a professionally cross-sectional task, but also require complex negotiation processes between the multiple spheres of stakeholders from politics, administration and civil society. The keyword 'integrated urban development' implies the participation of many in shaping the living space. This in turn means that many have to communicate with each other in order to develop city and space together. Research on the practice of multilateral communication processes in urban development shows that administrative actors play a central role in these processes. In a survey conducted by the VHW, respondents in small towns described the administration as "the maker in urban planning" ; in large cities, the answers are more differentiated and yet here "the administration and politics are described in equal parts as setting the direction" . [see VHW 2018] In this context, administrative actors face the challenge of designing at least three interfaces of varying depth in the communication structure:•INTERFACE with the OUTSIDE WORLD: by informing and/or involving the public, but also technical experts, public authorities or the press,•INTERFACE with the POLITICS: on a day-to-day basis through committees and Council proposals as well as individual questions from parliamentary groups, through instructions from the Lord Mayor/Mayor/Department, etc.,•INTERFACE with the INTERNAL WORLD: depending on the number of different departments, the IF and the HOW of cooperation. The design of these interfaces poses different challenges for the administrative stakeholders. In practice, there are differentiated deficits in interdepartmental cooperation. Process-related scope for design cannot be used due to various hurdles in activity. While there is already comprehensive research on the two interfaces of the outside world and poltics, the interface of the internal world has not yet been investigated much by urban development research. However, indications from other research projects such as Multi|Kom or LOB show the need for consideration.Addressing the following research questions makes it possible to contribute to the discourse on communicative multilateral, integrated planning processes and to deepen the examination of the role of administrative actors in urban development processes: •WHO from the administrative sphere communicates with WHOM at the (process) interface? •HOW is communication carried out at the (process) interfaces? •What process-related challenges (pit-falls) arise for the administrative actors when designing the interfaces? •Which solution strategies are applied by the administrative actors to meet the challenges and achieve the process goals? The research makes clear how the administrative actors (can) shape these communicative and procedural interfaces, what challenges they face and what methods of resolution they develop to meet them. By systematically examining and compiling best practices in administration from a scientific perspective, the examination of the topic contributes to practice-to-practice transfer.In the increasingly complex VUCA world, the administration is confronted with issues and requirements that cannot be dealt with within the frame of the existing departments. The often still rigid way of working according to responsibilities and hierarchies does not satisfy all the requirements of the complex problems in many specialised areas of the administration. Sebastian Muschter writes: "The administration itself wants to and can become better. We just have to allow it to do so", and thus paraphrases the administrative reform that is on its way. [Muschter 2018: 3] If we speak of administrative reforms or a ‘change process‘, this does not mean a selective innovation, but a continuous process in the development of the administration. In addition to the structural reorientation, this is also characterised by the generation change that is currently taking place. The changing framework conditions offer the opportunity to try out new ways and to stabilise successful processes.Due to its original interdisciplinary and integrated task, the field of urban development has the opportunity to draw on experience with differentiated forms of cooperation and for example to generate experience for other processes and projects by testing agile methods. The examination of the case studies confirms that the internal structures of the administration and the handling of the design of interfaces emanating from the administration are of great importance for the success of the projects. Many of the challenges that arise in the practice of integrated urban development processes are similar to those that representatives of agile principles want to solve in their environment, and the approaches to solutions are also comparable: strengthening the process transparency, comprehensible intermediate steps (time/duration), the need for cross-functional teams and cross-sectional roles as a solution for 'line work‘ and departments, the relationship with politics as a business owner, regular retrospectives for knowledge transfer and adaptation of the 'visions' or goals to current framework conditions, as well as consolidation of good practice. The agile world is based on a cooperative approach. The discourse on communicative multilateral, integrated planning processes is continued here and deepened in the examination of the role of administrative actors in urban development processes. The research makes clear how administrative actors can use change processes to support a development from 'interfaces with deficit' to 'connection points and enabling culture' and to optimise complex, integrated planning processes.


  • Chair of Planning Theory and Urban Development [212110]