Management Engineering

Authors: 
Dino Borri
Abstract: 

This lecture-tutorial introduces to the evolution up to now of urban planning theories-in-practice. It aims athighlighting the plural and evolving streams of knowledge which form the core of planning ‘knowledge-in-action’.It introduces to the wicked problems and the dilemmas of planning with particular attention to the cognitive ‘morethan-rational’ approach which is emerging based on the many different planning paradigms of one century and halfof planning theory and practice. The lecture-tutorial is structured in five parts: three of these parts deal with thethree major approaches to planning still influential in the work of planners, the fourth part deals with a hybridapproach providing an integrated keystone to the development of planning, the fifth and final part considers spatialimplications of management engineering.The behavioral-systemic approach: it considers management engineering as a problem solving activity, in whichsystem theory and analysis and the leading of complex systems by cybernetics play a fundamental role; humanbehaviors and decisions can be analyzed, modeled, and optimized as it is for any other problems by using a scientificapproach, engineering and policy science are close friends in this venture. Gradually, a less optimistic and confidentattitude enters the scene, acknowledging the limitations which affect our rationality and knowledge of the world.The humanistic approach: based on pioneer studies, in the fields of psychology and organizational science amongothers (see the experiment in the General Electric plant at Hawthorne by scholars from the School of Business ofHarvard in the 1930s, or the start of the Laboratory of Group Dynamics at Bethel, Usa, in the 1940s), the crucial roleof typically human abilities (emotion, creativity, trust, etc.), not easily transferable to machines or rational devices,is acknowledged, it becomes also clear that top managers in their work do not follow the rigid scheme and path ofproduction organizations postulated by Taylor, on the contrary adopting shortcuts and euristics which consist of tacitknowledge and accumulation of high level experience, something that evokes art abilities.The cognitive approach: agent-based approaches are developed for analyzing, modeling, and managing increasinglymultifaceted and decentralized organizations; the idea is that mastering individual and social cognition isfundamental prerequisite of efficient and effective organization management and engineering; the cognitiveapproach is introducing a new landscape of concepts (see ontologies in agent-based intelligent systems andorganizations) and methods (see the new various cognitive models).The technological change and organizational approach: some relevant factors are changing the way in whichtechniques and technologies are conceived and practiced, among them the search for environmental sustainability oftechniques, globalization of societies and economies, and the cognitive turn in science and organization in any fieldand at any level; technology is not seen any more as developing in linear forms in time or according to progressiveand hierarchical models on the terrain of efficiency and effectiveness, dilemmas of the relation between traditional5(endogenous) techniques and non-traditional (exogenous) techniques become more clear, the life-cycle assessmentof technological change and technological obsolescence enters the scene with its charge of unsolvable problems; therole of individual and social cognition, of ‘technological memory’ in technological change and technologyorganization is increasingly acknowledged; information and communication technology is tremendously developingand introducing new cognitive and behavioral equilibria in individual and social organizations throughout the planet.Spatial implications of management engineering: with the increasing dematerialization and knowledge enrichmentof techniques, technology acquires new spatial profiles, for instance in terms of production landscape, individual andsocial knowledge dynamics, spatial distribution and interaction of social and human capitals, so that cities andregions are gradually changing from the hierarchies and polarities of the past to the nets of the present