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Utilizing flux and chaos: A case study of wicked problems in environmental management

Utilizing flux and chaos: A case study of wicked problems in environmental management Public agency managers dealing with environmental issues often encounter “wicked problems”; poorly defined, with conflicting interpretations of data, and conflict among values and missions (Rittel & Webber, 1973). This case study that provides insight into a “wicked problem” resulting from a complex series of interactions between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation during the Kesterson incident (a biological disaster during the 1980s). Morganʼs (2006) metaphors are utilized to examine the circumstances of the incident and demonstrate the hierarchical structures and opposing cultures that exacerbated the issues. Dealing with a wicked problem requires embracing conflict to potentiate change. We assert that public organizations dealing with complex issues need to embrace chaos and flux and self-organize in the same manner as biological systems, thereby evolving into dynamic organizations well-equipped to deal with the complexities of their environments. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Organization Theory & Behavior Emerald Publishing

Utilizing flux and chaos: A case study of wicked problems in environmental management

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1093-4537
DOI
10.1108/IJOTB-18-04-2015-B001
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Public agency managers dealing with environmental issues often encounter “wicked problems”; poorly defined, with conflicting interpretations of data, and conflict among values and missions (Rittel & Webber, 1973). This case study that provides insight into a “wicked problem” resulting from a complex series of interactions between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation during the Kesterson incident (a biological disaster during the 1980s). Morganʼs (2006) metaphors are utilized to examine the circumstances of the incident and demonstrate the hierarchical structures and opposing cultures that exacerbated the issues. Dealing with a wicked problem requires embracing conflict to potentiate change. We assert that public organizations dealing with complex issues need to embrace chaos and flux and self-organize in the same manner as biological systems, thereby evolving into dynamic organizations well-equipped to deal with the complexities of their environments.

Journal

International Journal of Organization Theory & BehaviorEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 1, 2015

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