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A strategy to address wicked problems and how to get stakeholders to interact is covered in a new, free publication Wicked Problems Plaza: Principles and Practices for Effective Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue. The free download elaborates on four basic dimensions of the approach developed by The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

The PrC is behind the Wicked Problems Plaza (WPP), a concept created by PrC at RSM and the New World Campus. This facilitated multi-stakeholder dialogue enables a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss a wicked problem – a problem that’s difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory or changing requirements. 

In the book, recommendations for facilitating a novel and structured dialogue between stakeholders from different backgrounds and for generating creative and realistic ideas include new approaches to wicked problems to address complexity, at the same time as paying attention to unintended and indirect effects.

  • Why focus on wicked problems?
  • What principles should be taken into account?
  • Where does it happen in the WPP?
  • How can it be made to work?

Many of today’s global problems are wicked, meaning they are hard to define, let alone solve. They consist of interrelated issues and affect various groups of people. No single actor is therefore able to solve the problem on their own. The biggest challenges are defined by the UN as the Global Goals for Sustainable Development covering issues such as poverty, climate change and inequality. Such wicked problems need to be channelled through multi-stakeholder processes.

“What is essential to the WPP,” says originator of the WPP process, Rob van Tulder, Professor of International Business-Society Management at RSM, “is that we get the ‘system into the room’ – that is, we involve all relevant stakeholders. It creates a structured way of facilitating collaborative methods for dealing with wicked problems. We provide a safe environment in which participants are taken on a journey from abstract problems to collaborative solutions. It is based on years of experience in research and practice in partnership formation and stakeholder engagement processes.”

The book offers insight into how RSM addresses the Global Goals and provides illustrations from dialogue sessions organised in 2015–2016. It presents the theoretical background, the basic outline of the method, practical tips and suggested reading. Readers will understand the methodology and be given ideas for making use of the WPP methods in their own field of interest.

The book can be downloaded here: Wicked Problems Plaza: Principles and Practices for Effective Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue.

More information

The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) is a specialist research centre at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. The PrC envisions a more sustainable and inclusive world in which business, civil society and governments each play an important role to create collaborative and inclusive solutions for complex societal issues. We connect scientifically sound research and practitioner experience of cross-sector partnerships to aid sustainable and inclusive development. For more information about the Partnerships Resource Centre at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, visit or contact us at +31 10 408 1126.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, Media & Public Relations Manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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