Filling the Kasteelgracht with a stream of tacit knowledge; Finding solutions for a complex water problem by using tacit knowledge of people in a Working place

Olst, A.A. van (2016) Filling the Kasteelgracht with a stream of tacit knowledge; Finding solutions for a complex water problem by using tacit knowledge of people in a Working place.

Abstract:The Dutch water authorities, consisting of water boards, municipalities and Rijkswaterstaat experience increasing problems due to a lack of people with experience and experiential knowledge. In addition, experiences and tacit knowledge are hardly combined or transferred to less experienced personnel (Cath et al, 2010). Tacit knowledge will be obtained by working for a longer time at the same company or location and it is difficult to transfer to others. Forms of tacit knowledge are acts, intuition and routines. By having a lack on tacit knowledge, organizations will have less power to act and problems will be detected and addressed slower (Delong, 2010). The problems at the water authorities are caused due to budget cuts and loss of experienced persons because of retirements. Due to the budget cuts, the water authorities were forced to reorganize and to scale up. The goal of this was to create more efficient and cost effective governments (Castenmiller & Peters, 2013). However, it also leads to larger organizations with more tasks and new requirements. In addition, the specific knowledge about the area decreases and the connection between the water authorities and other parties declined (de Vries, 2013). In order to address these problems, a new working method was developed; the Working place. In a Working place, complex water problems will be addressed by using tacit knowledge different people. In the past, several Working places were organized, but the effects were still unknown. The goal of this research was to determine the effects of the Working place in order to find solutions for complex water problems. This research was based to determine the effects of the Working place around the problems of the “Kasteelgracht”. Chapter 2 provides the background of the case and clarifies which actors should be involved. The “Kasteelgracht” is a moat around “Het Kasteel", which is part of the residential area "Osseveld-Woudhuis” in the city Apeldoorn. During periods of drought, problems occur in the "Kasteelgracht" due to low water. If the water level decreases, the soil and plants dry out and this looks dirty and it leads to a bad smell. In addition, two exotic plants came into the “Kasteelgracht” spontaneously, which lead to a lack of visibility in the water. Furthermore, the weirs between different water levels are leaking and there will be some problems during heavy rain events. Due to a lack of the capacity in the sewerage will cause water to discharge via an overflow to the “Kasteelgracht”. When this happens parking spaces and sheds were flooded. All these problems are very annoying for the residents of the residential area. They had hindrance for 13 years and the water board Vallei and Veluwe and municipality Apeldoorn did never found the final solution for the problems. The problems were still not solved, because the involved actors had different perceptions about the problems and responsibilities. In addition, there was not enough budget and only a select group of persons within the water board and the municipality was involved in finding solutions. In order to find a solution for these problems a Working place was organized. In the Working place, all persons who had specific knowledge and experiences about the problem were invited. Finally, the Working place consisted of several persons of water board, the municipality and the residential council. Chapter 3 provides a description about the execution of the Working place. In the first session the actors introduce themselves and share their knowledge and experiences of the problems. The actors wanted to find a solution together, but the they had many different perceptions about how the problems should be solved. There arose a fierce discussion and the process came to a standstill (moment of effort). However, the actors solved the problems and the mood became positive. They decided to create two scenarios and these were elaborated in the second session. The third session did not take place yet, but in this session the scenarios will be presented to the daily board of the water board, representative of the municipality and finally to the residents. These persons were not being present during the Working place, but they were important for finding and for implementing the solutions. The residents did not want to join, because they first wanted that their input, which had given in the past was taken seriously and acted upon. The daily board and the representatives of the water board had other appointments during the sessions. In Chapter 4, the effects of the Working place were determined by analyzing the process of the Working place. In addition, the actors were interviewed and completed a survey before and after two session of the Working place. This survey was based on the 22 factors of the Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW). This is a tool, which can be used to determine the weak and strong point of persons, organizations and approaches. By comparing the results before and after two session of the Working place, the effect of the Working place became clear. Almost all scores of the factors increased due to the Working place. However, the residents, board members of the water board and a representative of the municipality were not being present in the Working place. This lead to lower scores of the factors ability to improve and multi actor, level & sector. The scores remained the same of the factors: Entrepreneurial (incite people to act), single loop learning (improving routine) and double loop learning (when social actors challenge norms and basic assumptions). Despite that some scores became lower or remained the same value, almost all scores increased. The actors were positive about the process. The problem was urgent enough for everyone and they were willing to find a solution together. The relationship between the actors improved and they were willing to share their tacit knowledge. Furthermore, due to the documentation (the growing narrative) and many reflections during the process, the understanding toward each other increased. It made the actors more conscious of their behaviour and they could learn from their experiences. Based on the improved results of the survey after two session, in combination with the positive developments of the process of the case around the “Kasteelgracht”, can be concluded that the Working place has a positive effect on finding solutions for complex water problems.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Civil Engineering and Management MSc (60026)
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