Stakeholder Management: The High-speed Train Through Castellbisbal

Case details
About the authors

Tamyko Ysa, Assistant Professor, Institute of Public Governance and Management, ESADE, Spain talks about the multimedia case Stakeholder Management: The High-speed Train through Castellbisbal (Barcelona).

Tamyko Ysa

This case focuses on the difficulties for public administration arising from strategic projects - in this instance, building a high-speed train line. When the roof of a house collapsed after work on a new tunnel, injuring one person, the ensuing public alarm caused a crisis affecting multiple stakeholders: government at local, regional and national levels, construction companies, residents and the media. The town mayor was under pressure from public opinion but lacked the legal powers to deal with the matter.

In fact, the mayor, Joan Playà, had been a participant on ESADE's Master in Public Administration (EMPA) programme and knew we were eager to write cases for training public sector managers. He greatly facilitated our access to information which was systematically compared with that from other sources.  We interviewed opponents and residents, and consulted secondary sources such as press, newscasts and official documents.

Our main difficulty was to hammer out a teaching logic. The crisis situation was very complex and the intricacy arose from the fact that the case dealt with many themes. We decided to focus on a systematic analysis of public policies and to tackle the case writing in five stages: definition of the problem, alternatives, decision-making, implementation and evaluation.

Why multimedia?

A multimedia case is an alternative to a paper-based case, not a substitute. The multimedia case enables participants to work flexibly with all the information and simultaneously tackle decision-making during the crisis. Multimedia allows you to present so much visual information (plans, photos, videos of the various players) and makes the case more attractive and 'real'. We made a video of Joan Playà speaking about his decisions. Our idea was to show the real-world time and resource constraints he was working under. We have found that participants like being able to see him and comparing their decisions with his.

The support of a specialist multimedia technology resource, ESADE's Department of Educational Innovation and Learning (DIPA), was of prime importance. Communication between the case writer and DIPA needed to be fluid and ongoing with shared aims. This involved carefully examining the needs of the case and organisation of the content, layout and delivery. It also meant grasping the technological possibilities and limitations.

Multimedia encourages involvement in decision-making and class discussion, and participants have been particularly enthusiastic about being able to use the case on their laptops and navigate through it free of the limitations of a paper case. The same multimedia files can be used for multiple languages (in our case, English, Spanish and Catalan), allowing for participant choice.

We decided to prepare a multimedia teaching note to ensure that the case teacher has detailed, comprehensive information on the alternative solutions. It contains sections on the underlying theory, a PowerPoint presentation of the case and the option of a (B) case to reveal how the situation worked out.

Any advice?

The preparation of a multimedia case takes longer than a traditional paper one and the case must still be written down on paper before gathering multimedia material. A word of warning: start obtaining fi lm and photo rights early because this is a glacially slow process, particularly when it comes to public media sources. Obtaining the rights for all visual materials was not possible for us and that forced us to source some additional similar materials. We would also advise case writers to learn from the computer experts and plan the case in such a way that it fully exploits the technology, ensuring that participants will be able to navigate back or forwards at any point.

Teaching objectives

This case is designed to provide a highly realistic approximation to decision-making during a crisis in which the stakeholders were at loggerheads. We wanted to help participants break down their analysis into manageable chunks, while keeping sight of the public interest and conflicting individual and organisational needs. We have successfully used the case on various occasions and with different audiences (undergraduate, executive, MBA and PhD). It can be used to teach public administration, public policy analysis and stakeholder management. The case stresses the pressures and often bewildering options faced by decision makers. It provides many alternatives and constitutes an enriching learning experience.

Case details

Click on the case title to view further details and, where available, an educator preview copy.

Stakeholder Management: The High-speed Train Through Castellbisbal (Barcelona)
Multimedia case
Tamyko Ysa, Joan Playà and Paula Gràcia
Ref 309-120-0
Multimedia teaching note

Ref 309-120-8

About the author

Professor Tamyko Ysa is Assistant Professor of the Institute of Public Governance and Management at ESADE, Spain.

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