Final Doctoral oral examination – Phil Cook

Doctorate in Business Administration candidate, Phil Cook, will be defending his dissertation on Monday, December 11, 2017.

Those interested in attending the exam can contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies at fgs@athabascau.ca

Title of Thesis:

The Contribution of Pathologies of Conversation Toward the Manifestation of Opposition to Landfill Siting 



This research has been carried out in an effort to answer the question “why do community opposition groups form?” It is posited that the identification of the mechanisms that promote the formation of community opposition groups might provide insight into the future design of collaborative platforms that might be more equitable, ethical and have a higher probability of success.

Design / Methodology / Approach

The research begins with a review of current literature concerning community engagement and flows through to a review of contemporary literature related to the explanation of opposition groups. The theories of NIMBY, NIABY and pathologies of conversation are explored and reviewed. Three case studies follow, all of which are presented following the “pattern matching” methodology, and are based on the collection of primary and secondary data used for triangulation in the case analysis. A cross case analysis is then presented and conclusions, implications and future research are explored.


The researcher arrives at substantial support for the theory of pathology of conversation as the impetus for opposition group formation. The NIMBY and NIABY theories when matched for “fit” with the data are insufficient in their explanation for the formation of opposition groups in all of the three cases. Emergent from the data are themes of threat to normalcy, moral hazard and an important temporal aspect regarding the formation of the community opposition groups. It is also concluded that the geographic proximity variable is essential to the formation of the groups and that the best explanation of the phenomenon lies in the combination of different aspects of the explanations.


A model of opposition group formation based on pathologies of conversation is presented for use in engagement strategies for business, government and community. The identification of the mechanisms of opposition group manifestation namely pathology of conversation allows for a clear path to avoidance of these mechanisms in the designing of collaborative platforms.