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How can municipalities implement the sustainable development goals? A qualitative study of integral approaches

Benedict, C. (2022) How can municipalities implement the sustainable development goals? A qualitative study of integral approaches.

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Abstract:In 2015 the United Nations introduced the seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs). These goals can be seen as wicked problems due to their interconnectivity that cuts across multiple levels. The wicked problems can be solved by having a network. A network is regarded as adaptable, flexible and allows members to achieve something that can not be done individually. A dual-operating system consists of one stable hierarchy and a dynamic network. This system seems helpful as the entire organizational structure does not has to change. The municipalities need to translate the global goals into local goals. However, this still seems a complicated process. According to the association for municipalities in the Netherlands (VNG), an integral approach is necessary to accomplish this translation. This research seeks to find answers about the best approach to work integral and the factors influencing it. A literature study found that cross-functional teams are valuable when working with different departments. Then, qualitative research was used to determine the integral approaches different municipalities in the Netherlands are already using. In total,ten people from seven municipalities are interviewed. Four municipalities because of their integral approach and three because they are global goal municipalities. People are chosen because of their experience with integral working approaches or their effort with SDGs. From the findings of both literature and the qualitative research, it is clear that SDGs are wicked problems. The research showed that cross-functional teams need an additional step of goal setting before working on a project, and a dual-operating system seems useful in theory but is not much used in practice. Furthermore, qualitative research found that municipalities are still looking for the best integral approach. However, most municipalities use an “Opgavegericht” (i.e.,challenge-based) approach. Some factors still hinder the collaboration, for example, a silo mentality, lack of support from top management, a low support base, and misunderstanding of the SDGs. Therefore the ADKAR model (Hiatt, 2006) is valuable for changing the organization by creating awareness and altering the silo mentality.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:International Business Administration BSc (50952)
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