NJDOT Corridor Initiatives – Ethnographic Research
MLUC authored a “white paper” related to the five corridor initiatives conducted by NJDOT over the past three years. (Refer to the project entitled: NJ Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Corridor Initiatives – Analyzing the Lessons Learned from NJDOT Corridor Initiatives.) The white paper served as the basis for conducting qualitative research that was designed to discover how individuals and groups think about issues relating to transportation, growth, and land use, and what factors make them most – and least – receptive to new or different ideas. MLUC hired the consulting firm, Innovation Focus, to conduct ethnographic research of key stakeholders who were involved in, or affected by, NJDOT’s transportation corridor initiatives and to create a communications tool to help NJDOT leadership and staff mobilize and engage stakeholders.
Over four months, Innovation Focus interviewed 30 individuals. The first 12 were NJDOT engineers and planners to learn about their experiences in interacting with different types of stakeholders, and what engineers and planners needed in a toolkit.
After interviewing NJDOT engineers and planners, Innovation Focus conducted 18 interviews with local citizens, government officials and interest groups regarding their perceptions, concerns and attitudes about NJDOT initiatives around the state. Six major themes were identified as overarching messages that capture what respondents expressed in the interviews. They are:
- Tap into local stakeholder knowledge first
- Gather a diverse group of stakeholders
- Involve stakeholders early
- Put what is learned into action
- Build constructive relationships
- Maintain community involvement
The themes create the framework for the toolkit which is comprised of an illustrated guide and two DVDs that are searchable, portable and web-accessible.