Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Austin Becker

Abstract

Climate change presents a wicked problem for coastal planners and policy makers (Lazarus, 2008) that transcends political boundaries and involves complex social and infrastructure networks (R. Biesbroek, Termeer, Kabat, & Klostermann, 2009). Traditional ways of thinking, problem solving, and policy making must be transformed (R. Biesbroek et al., 2009). Leadership is acknowledged as critical to solving complex problems (G. R. Biesbroek, Klostermann, Termeer, & Kabat, 2013; Eisenack et al., 2014; Meijerink & Stiller, 2013; Stiller & Meijerink, 2015). Complex infrastructure and social systems will need to undergo “transformational adaptation” in response to rising seas and stronger storms (Kates, Travis, & Wilbanks, 2012). Many stakeholders across various jurisdictional boundaries and at all levels of government will need to play a role (Kates et al., 2012). This research explores the port of Providence community’s perceptions around the responsibility to lead in resilience planning and systemic transformational change, specifically evaluating gaps between stakeholders and those expected to lead the change. We found that stakeholder perceptions of adaptation leadership contribute to an institutional void, in which it is unclear who is responsible and who pays for resilience investment. This research emphasizes the need for pre-planning dialogue in the face of wicked problems in order to develop consensus for resilience investment strategies. Pre-planning allows clarification of stakeholder roles and politically, economically, and socially feasible resilience options can be identified.

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