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Title: Social sustainability and stakeholder-associated challenges of urban housing demolition in China
Authors: Yu, Tao
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: As a consequence of the Chinese government's ambitious construction modernization program, urban housing demolition (UHD) has been widely carried out in China to release existing built-up land for urban redevelopment. With multiple strategic considerations, UHD has made a significant contribution to the economic growth, infrastructure development, and housing conditions of Chinese cities. However, despite its benefits, UHD has had a profound negative impact on the social fabric of modern China. Over 20% of urban residents have had their living conditions and economic status severely affected by having to relocate due to UHD (Beijing Cailiang Law Firm, 2015). In China, due to sharp conflicts of interest among different stakeholder groups, UHD has been criticized as negatively impacting social sustainability through perceived social unfairness, mass protests and even violent resistance. Since previous studies have found that stakeholders play a critical role in determining the degree of social sustainability, in order to mitigate negative social sustainability issues it is necessary to first investigate the implications of UHD on social sustainability from a stakeholder perspective. The stakeholder-associated challenges should then be effectively addressed to mitigate the negative impact of stakeholder conflicts on performance and social sustainability. Accordingly, this study focuses on the following stakeholder-oriented research questions: 1) From the perspective of stakeholders, what are the conceptual implications of the social sustainability of UHD? 2) How can practitioners quantitatively evaluate the social sustainability of UHD based on the key interests and wellbeing of stakeholders? 3) How can practitioners quantify and deal with stakeholder conflicts in UHD? 4) How can practitioners address the adverse impacts associated with the key stakeholders in UHD? To answer the first question, the conceptual implications of social sustainability were analyzed based on a literature review and empirical investigations of key stakeholders in UHD. The results show that social sustainability should be defined based on the wellbeing and key interests of stakeholders. To answer the second question, an assessment system based on cluster analysis was established to quantitatively measure the social sustainability of UHD. The overall social sustainability of UHD projects in Shanghai is then assessed to demonstrate the practical value of this assessment system. The results showed that health and safety, social equality, and adherence to the law were the most critical dimensions that determined the social sustainability of UHD in Shanghai. It was also found that to enhance social sustainability, existing housing demolition practices should be modified to reduce their negative impact on the daily lives of residents living near demolition sites. To address the third research question, a quantitative model is proposed to evaluate, analyze, and mitigate stakeholder conflicts in UHD on the basis of stakeholder salience theory and Pawlak's conflict theory. In the model, the key concerns and attitudes of different stakeholder groups could be captured based on empirical investigations. To determine the relative importance of each stakeholder group, key stakeholder characteristics are demonstrated and quantified via salience analysis. Subsequently, the conflicts of interest among different stakeholders were calculated using Pawlak's conflict analysis. With the help of the model, an action scheme is designed to mitigate stakeholder conflicts and maximize project benefits. A UHD project in Wenzhou was used to demonstrate the application of the conflict analysis model. The robustness and effectiveness of this model is tested using sensitivity analysis and scenario comparison. The results indicate that this model could be effectively adopted in real UHD projects to balance the interests of stakeholders and reduce stakeholder conflicts.
Existing laws and policies tend to treat the adverse impact of stakeholders as social risks. Accordingly, to answer the fourth research question, these detrimental stakeholder impacts are investigated from the perspective of social risk management. Social network analysis is employed to link stakeholders and their negative impacts in UHD. On the basis of network analysis, critical social risks and the corresponding stakeholders are identified. Social security schemes, efficient financial management, multi-dimensional impact assessments, policy analyses and adherence to laws, as well as public participation are proposed to mitigate social risks during housing demolition. The effectiveness of these solutions is quantified based on a network simulation. These findings can help practitioners mitigate the adverse impacts caused by stakeholders. Through the aforementioned analyses, this study contributes to the relevant body of knowledge in the following four areas. First, the study combines social sustainability analysis and stakeholder theory (i.e. assessing social sustainability based on the wellbeing and key interests of stakeholders, and addressing social sustainability issues by mitigating the adverse impacts of stakeholders), particularly in the area of UHD projects. Given that stakeholders play a significant role in determining the social sustainability of UHD, this study provides valuable suggestions for practitioners to improve their UHD practices. Second, the study contributes to the body of knowledge on social sustainability evaluation. An assessment system containing 22 indicators has been developed to establish the implications of social sustainability. This system can be used to quantitatively measure the social sustainability performance of UHD projects. Third, the study contributes to the area of stakeholder conflict analysis. Stakeholder conflicts in UHD projects can be well quantified through the development of a conflict analysis model that can capture stakeholder concerns and attitudes based on empirical investigations. In addition, the model can generate action schemes for practitioners to mitigate stakeholder conflicts and maximize project benefits. Fourth, this study contributes to the area of social risk management by having developed a network model to analyze social risks in UHD. Compared with previous studies, this model quantified the relative importance of each social risk from a stakeholder perspective. In addition, the interactions among different social risks were examined based on network analysis. As a result, the adverse impacts caused by stakeholders can be controlled. The results of this study offer valuable guidance for practitioners to measure the social sustainability of their UHD projects. By addressing stakeholder-associated issues, it can enhance the overall social sustainability of UHD practices in large Chinese cities.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Relocation (Housing) -- China
Housing policy -- China
Housing -- China
Sustainable development -- China
Pages: xv, 203 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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