7.4 Case: Building a Corporate Headquarters in a Prestigious Neighborhood

As an example of the collaborative approach, consider the case of a large corporation in Memphis, Tennessee, that desired to build its new headquarters in a very prestigious neighborhood. The planned site was a parklike property that the corporation owned. On the multiacre property was a large, and historical, mansion that the corporation used as an overflow office. The corporation wanted to add an additional building that would house the entire headquarters. However, this was going to be a difficult task because the city’s most prominent citizens owned most of the homes in the area and recently the neighborhood had fought against converting an abandoned school building into an office and won.

Although the corporation already owned the property, it decided to collaborate with the neighborhood to find mutually satisfactory solutions rather than face a possible court injunction. The public relations director met with the homeowners association to understand the concerns and anxieties about building a corporate headquarters in the neighborhood. The major concerns were the following:

Taking this information back to management, the public relations director worked with the CEO and other senior officers to develop strategies that would generate support for the construction of their building. Through further meetings and negotiations with the association, the corporation agreed to the following conditions:

The corporation built its new headquarters with vocal support from its neighbors and neighborhood relations were very positive for several years to come. The public relations director often posted notes from neighbors who wanted to thank a security guard for helping find a lost dog or for contributions to neighborhood fund-raising efforts to benefit charities. Using the collaborative approach, this corporation was able to achieve a win-win solution through two-way communication.