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Masdar City is a developmental project which focuses on the creation of sustainable settlements for companies and homeowners in Abu Dhabi. The multi-billion project is expected to take a leading role in transforming energy use in the country. Despite the noble vision that the founders and financiers of this project have, it is important to appreciate that conflicts may emerge. The paper looks at ways in which such conflicts can be managed to enhance the success of the project. Having proper systems and channels of managing conflicts will benefit all stakeholders within the city.
Masdar City is a planned settlement project that is located next to Abu Dhabi International Airport, south-east of Abu Dhabi. Built by Mubadala Development Company, the city is designed to host 1,500 businesses and is home to 50,000 people (Wippel, Bromber, & Krawietz, 2016). The concept of this development is to rely wholly on renewable energy and to embrace environmentally sustainable practices such as reuse and recycling in line with the country’s vision 2030. Companies moving to the city must be ready to embrace these practices. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has already moved its headquarters to this city as a sign of its support for the concepts that the project embraces (Johnson, Toly, & Schroeder, 2015).
The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology also moved its campus to the city. According to Alderson (2015), the United Arab Emirates has been a regional leader in promoting sustainable development, especially in the use of energy, water, and managing wastes. The government and private investors have been working as a unit to ensure that the country becomes energy efficient. Masdar City is a perfect example of the steps that both public and private sector companies are taking to achieve these goals. It is important to appreciate that in such a large organization that hosts several entities, conflicts will often emerge. It is necessary to find ways of managing such conflicts to achieve unity and harmony. In this paper, the aim is to discuss how conflicts can be managed in the city.
Discussion on Conflict
According to Dodoiu (2015), it is normal for conflicts to emerge in an organizational setting. Many factors may cause two or more people to disagree on various issues. It is almost impossible to come up with a system or policy that would eliminate such conflicts to arise. As a leader, one should understand that the most important thing is to have a proper mechanism for dealing with conflicts as and when they arise.
A leader must remain positive and realistic at all times. Being realistic will make it easy for the leader to know that it is normal for conflict to arise even when systems and structures within an organization are functioning optimally. On the other hand, when one remains positive, he or she will be committed to finding solutions whenever there is a conflict within an organization. Scholars have come up with principles and theories that can help in determining how conflicts can be addressed in an organizational setting. It is necessary to discuss these principles and theories concerning this organization.
One of the most important principles of managing conflicts is to accept responsibility. Duursma (2014) explains that when a mistake is committed, it is normal for people to avoid the blame as a way of keeping away from the possible consequences. A solution cannot be found when people constantly avoid owning the situation and finding a collecting solution. This is particularly the case with those trusted with leadership. Instead of blaming junior officers, top leaders at Masdar City should admit that they have a share of the blame and a proper solution should be found based on trust and commitment to the organization.
Another important principle is to attack the problem. According to Hogg (2015), in many cases, people spend a lot of time blaming others whenever a problem occurs. This principle requires leaders to focus on the problem instead of looking for those who should bear the blame. For instance, when it is discovered that there is part of the project that does not adhere to sustainability principles at Masdar City, the focus should be on how to correct the mistake. When that is done, the problem will be solved within a short duration, and everyone will be satisfied with the outcome.
Feminist theory is one of the concepts that stakeholders in this city should embrace. According to Raines (2013), this theory contends that women are politically, socially, and economically equal to men. It is expected that when the city finally becomes fully operational, it will attract people from all parts of the world. The United Arab Emirates has made impressive steps in empowering women in society (Oseni, 2015).
The city should follow the same pattern. Both men and women should be offered the same opportunities to succeed within the city. Critical race theory (CRT) is another concept that should be embraced by the leadership of this city because of its relevance. As explained above, people from different races are expected in this city as it continues to grow in popularity. The problem emerges when the idea of racial superiority is allowed to flourish. When a section of the population is allowed to believe that they are more entitled to Masdar city than others, then conflicts will emerge. As such, the top leaders should make it clear that racial intolerance is prohibited and punishable under the laws of the land.
Masdar City is expected to be a model for the region on how to embrace sustainability and environmental conservation. However, some critics have identified issues that will need to be addressed to ensure that the project is a success. One of the issues is that the project is a crystallization of the gated community meant for the rich who can afford the luxury it offers (Jehn, Rispens, Jonsen, & Greer, 2013). It means that the middle class in the country already view it with suspicion. They think that they will only play a role in the creation of the city, and soon after, the rich will take over. The perception may create a conflict between the middle class and the leadership of the project. A proper mechanism is necessary to convince the society that everyone will benefit from the project,
Geoffrey Heal, an expert in environmental economics who is also a professor at Columbia Business School, has also criticized the sustainable concept that the city has embraced (Oseni, 2015). The professor argued that the city is meant to gain publicity in the city and that it may not be practical to generate enough energy needed by the said companies and homes within the city from renewable sources.
Such arguments from a person of authority tend to cause conflict because it questions the integrity and core values of Masdar City. It creates doubt among the stakeholders, especially the financiers who believed the system would work. It may also create fear among potential residents. The management has done a great job of addressing such conflict by facilitating discussions on the issue and addressing the issues raised.
Proposal of Dispute System
The leadership of this city can come up with various concepts of managing conflicts that may arise. Maintaining a fair environment for every stakeholder within the organization is also critical. It is expected that the city will be home to people from all walks of life (Roche, Teague, & Colvin, 2016). Europeans, Arabs, Africans, and Asians are expected in the city. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Pagans are also expected.
Everyone should feel protected and cared for by the systems and structures put in place by the leadership of this city. In case there is a conflict, the socio-economic background of the parties involved should not be the basis of seeking justice. Instead, a fair process based on the rule of law should be used to address the problem. Lempp (2016) also encourages the need to think before reacting among leaders.
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In most of the cases, people tend to make mistakes when they react to issues that affect them before taking time to think through. They fail to analyze the situation and as such, are likely to make mistakes. When that happens, they end up complicating a simple conflict. For instance, when others question the integrity of the core values of the organization, the leadership should take time before responding. It is also necessary to have an open system of communication to create an environment where disputes are addressed as soon as they arise.
Cost Benefits of Having a Proper Dispute Settlement System
Having a proper dispute settlement system may have costs and benefits that should be understood by the management of this organization. Having a functional system will be of great benefit to the success of the city. Addressing the rumors and misconceptions will help in ensuring that the project is completed as per the set standards and within the right time. Investors from all over the world will be attracted to a city where issues are addressed through proper channels. According to Oseni (2015), having an effective conflict resolution system helps in eliminating cases where disagreements are allowed to escalate to uncontrollable levels. The management will stay in control at all times, ready to deal with challenges that may arise before or after the project is complete.
It is important to appreciate that having such a system comes at a cost. One of the biggest costs is the time that has to be invested by the management in finding a proper conflict settlement system. Given the level of diversity that is expected within the city, the management cannot rely on local systems to solve conflicts that may arise (Saeed, Almas, Anis-ul-Haq, & Niazi, 2014). It will have to consider having a system that will be universally accepted by both the locals and foreigners. Another cost will be the compromises that the managers may make to accommodate foreigners with varying views. It is important to appreciate that some of the policies applicable in the city may be adjusted to meet the needs and expectations of the foreigners.
Industry Best Practices
The management of Masdar City should be ready to embrace best practices in the industry. One of the best practices in the industry is to embrace the concept of zero tolerance for discrimination. It is expected that the cost of services offered in most of the facilities may be higher than the average price in the country. However, the management should have a policy where anyone with the capacity to purchase these services is allowed to do so without prejudice (Eskjaer, Hjarvard, & Mortensen, 2015).
Race, religion, or any other demographical factor should not be a factor. This policy will shield the facility from unnecessary prejudice. Another policy that is gaining popularity in countries such as Germany and Finland where renewable is gaining massive popularity is to reward families and entities that register impressive records when it comes to the use of renewable sources. In this case, the management of Masdar City should reward individual families and companies that use the least possible amount of non-renewable sources. It will motivate residents of the city to embrace the policies set by the founders of the city.
Masdar City is a settlement project that is going to redefine the region’s approach to using renewable energy sources in the domestic and industrial sectors. The success of this mega project will depend on the capacity of the management to deal with conflicts that may emerge periodically among various stakeholders. It is not possible to avoid conflicts. However, it is necessary to deal with them as soon as they arise. The management of the city should embrace policies that make everyone feel comfortable and cared for by the institution. Issues that arise should be dealt with as soon as possible. It is also suggested that the management should embrace zero tolerance on issues such as discrimination, favoritism, and similar acts which may create discord among the residents of the city.
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