Knowledge mapping for enhancing sustainability in large public sector funded urban redevelopment

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The thesis describes a programme of research work to develop and apply knowledge mapping and knowledge management techniques to effectively assess and enhance sustainability within urban redevelopment projects. The research programme was initiated in collaboration with Dundee City Council to support sustainable development in a major programme of urban redevelopment. There is limited evidence that the body of knowledge arising from research in sustainable urban development is being holistically integrated within real life decision making practices to operationalise sustainability. Sustainability assessment has the potential to influence decision making and consequently by improving sustainability assessment practice project decision making should be enhanced. In addition, closer integration between assessment and decision making may not only lead to improve decisions, but also to the improved learning of those involved. This can be greatly facilitated by knowledge management, which can be used to understand and then facilitate greater learning amongst stakeholders.
    A theoretical framework for the assessment, monitoring and enhancement of sustainability was developed and applied in two parts to a case study, a monitoring component and an enhancement component. As a result of the case study a sustainability assessment and monitoring framework was successfully established for Dundee Waterfront in line with the assessment component of the theoretical framework. The indicators are now used by Dundee City Council at project and departmental level, providing the link across policies, programmes and projects. The key challenge addressed in developing the benchmark indicators was establishing robust governance for the monitoring framework. An enhancement framework was successfully established for Dundee Waterfront in line with the enhancement component of the theoretical framework. Decision mapping and knowledge elicitation techniques were successfully developed and applied to the case study to identify, key points in decision process, the information decision makers' need and which knowledge objects are being used in decision making.
    It is concluded that the knowledge elicitation and mapping approaches applied were effective at identifying both existing processes and knowledge objects used in infrastructure provision. This allowed a Knowledge Map for Sustainability to be developed to identify what information is currently used to influence sustainability and identify future opportunities to enhance practise. The map was effective in capturing the role of each stage in the process towards translating the sustainability vision as proved by user verification. The Map showed for the first time the aspects of sustainability in infrastructure provision and can be used to systematically operationalise sustainable development. However, the use of the map to embed sustainability into learning process could not be verified by practise in the currency of the thesis. A limitation of the case study application is that the integrated sustainability assessment and enhancement framework has been applied in a Scottish local authority context, to an organisation with a Quality Management System and outcome based indicators. These factors have been identified as contributing factors to the success of the sustainability assessment and enhancement framework as applied in the case study. This has the potential to limit the exportability of any findings. However, whilst considering the monitoring component it is recognised that similar outcome based indicators may exist at other local authorities and private organisations. In addition, the knowledge elicitation and mapping technique is an adaptive framework and as such is designed to respond to other organisation structures. Therefore by its nature it should be exportable to other applications. However three main questions remain to be addressed prior to the research question being answered in full. Firstly, uncertainty related to governance and long term use of the framework. Secondly, testing how the Knowledge Map for Sustainability is used in practice and thirdly the exportability of findings from the case study. It is recommended that these limitations be addressed in future work.
    Date of AwardMar 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDavid Blackwood (Supervisor) & Allan Taylor (Supervisor)


    • Sustainability assessment
    • Knowledge management
    • Decision making

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