Schwartz And The Academics
No, "the Academics" is not the name of a a new rock group that was started in Windsor, although some may say that the four professors may become the "Fab Four" of the conflict resolution world after this BLOG is posted.
Three Professors, Daniel Friesen, James Higginson and Kevin Li, from the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor and one from the University of Hawaii – Leeward, Jason Levy, did a study on the Schwartz Report that I found while surfing the net. I met with the three Windsor academics (I know, I know....I should have gone to Hawaii but that's another story). Their paper is copyrighted by the IEEE and the Professors gave me permission to quote excerpts from their paper.
What made the paper fascinating to me were the conclusions reached (within about a month from the Schwartz presentation date), the fact that, from the benefit of hindsight, they were very accurate in their analysis and finally that their model has a practical, business application side to it as well. It is NOT just another toy for academics to write about to meet their "publish or perish" requirements.
The paper, "Windsor-Detroit Border Crossing Problem: Conflict Analysis of the Schwartz Report" used the "graph model for conflict resolution to predict, in advance of any announcement, the most likely outcome of the [Schwartz] proposal given the preferences of the governments of Canada, Ontario and Windsor, and of a pooled body of three competitors vying to become the key new route between the two countries."
The model was "a recently developed decision aid tool to handle strategic conflict with multiple participants." The use of their model by the City (or by a business) would help in determining the chances of success of a proposal. If the chance was low, it would allow for various actions to be taken in the model to see if something could be done to increase the likelihood of being successful. Alternatively, it could suggest dropping the proposal entirely and trying something else since there was little possibility of success. An analogy is the use of a spreadsheet for budgetary purposes where numbers are plugged in to see what the end result will be if different values are used.
As in any process, it is only as good as the work undertaken in advance that sets up the various assumptions. In this case, the professors had to determine who the key stakeholders and decision makers were, what were the important issues that influenced them and what was their position on each issue. Those factors were then inserted into their model and conclusions reached based on the output.
Now their conclusions:
- "Using the graph model for conflict resolution, our analysis suggests that it is most likely that nothing will happen, at least in the short term. The governments that have been asked for some CAD 1.5 billion have little to gain by spending money quickly. Deferring action until the bi-national report is a reasonable way for them to look like they are doing something without actually making any commitment of funds at all. They have, therefore, nothing to gain by acting quickly…
The Mayor of Windsor, responding to the Schwartz Report in the hearing of two of this paper’s authors, indicated that he would press Canada and Ontario to give Windsor what it “deserved.” That contributes nothing to the likelihood of the City getting its way, using our model. The parties being asked for funds will make up their minds according to what they view to be in their own best interests – and the City has not sold its perspective from that angle."
What it means is that the Professors concluded early on that Schwartz had little chance of success. Eddie's approach also was the wrong one to use. If the City had any hope of being successful, then it had to change its approach to accommodate the needs of the Senior Levels or come up with an alternative solution.
The City did neither until it was too late and after making enemies of almost everyone. We saw the City's approach changing with the remark of Councillor Valentinis that Schwartz was just a "starting point." Then, in desperation, the Mayor and Council adopted their new position that was set out in the Resolution passed in Tecumseh.
Unfortunately, they wasted time, effort and money on a losing proposal, failed to recognize that for months, and failed to adapt it to meet the needs of the other decision makers in the process. This model could have helped them early on, even before they went public with Schwartz. A proper strategy could have been developed that would have benefitted Windsor.
Frankly, is it any different now with the City PLAN on tunnels and the location of the bridge, roads and plaza? Perhaps the Professors might be hired to run their analysis! But then again, do the Mayor and Council want to change or give up on another "losing" proposition if it can help them "win" re-election? I wonder if the model factors that in!