The State of Contemporary Property Development Theory 2013
Dr Jonathan Drane
This article was published at the Pacific Rim Real Estate Society conference and revealed the state of property development theory in the literature.
This article discusses the limitations of contemporary property development theory in both the academic and
commercial arenas, where it is proposed in theoretical terms that there has been little integrated development since the
Building on the author’s prior study (Drane 2012) which surveyed and mapped the literature related to ‘models of the
development process’ from 1954 to 2012, a limitation in not only collective attention to this subject since 1992 is
discovered, but also deficiencies in theoretical frames used, which were in turn limited by disciplines of the day.
On the academic side, the topic has been viewed through visors of economy, political economy, institutional, and social
theory which show a propensity to high level theoretical analysis, a significant lack of empirical engagement with
property developer actors and a lack of research into this topic since 1992. Then on the commercial side the topic
appears highly ‘non integrated’ and relies on the separate visors of economics, marketing, financial, real estate,
operational and structural analysis, with concepts which are separatist and arguably tend to come from standard
business model theory, and not a distinctive and contemporary model of property development.
The property development industry, it would seem is left with a paucity of contemporary foundations in both academic
theory, as well as a model of modern day practice.
This article discusses this along with a review of contemporary protagonists, ( Adams, Ball, Beauregard, Schiller and
Coiacetto and others) the implications for our contemporary property development theory and practice, and suggests
ways forward for the development of a modern theory of property development.
The author also introduces a model of the property development ‘mechanism’ which builds on prior models and offers a
Keywords: Property development theory, property development process, property developer, property development
2013: Pacific Rim Real Estate Society Conference- RMIT, Melbourne, Australia.
Article: The State of Contemporary Development Theory.
By Dr Jonathan Drane
A View From The Ground
Implications for the literature on the ‘models of the development process’
based on a model of praxis and an associated mapping study.
By Dr Jonathan Drane 2012
This article identifies limitations in ontology and epistemology in the literature related to ‘models of the development process’, through a mapping exercise, which places existing views gained through visors of economy, political economy, institutional and social theory in perspective with a relative view of praxis.
Proponents of this field of study who have reviewed it over the twenty years since its contemporary categorical analysis (Healey 1991, 1992), (Gore & Nicholson 1991) suggest, in many cases, that they could gain collectively from an increased view of praxis in the property development mechanism, and associated empirical engagement with property developer actors.
A model of praxis in the commercial ‘property development mechanism’, is introduced which is founded on a taxonomy of ‘lots and land parcels’, ‘value tension’, ‘arbitrage transaction’, ‘title distribution’ and a ‘plurality of developer types’ who ‘transition the parcel’ within a series of alignments, both constrained and empowered by prior ‘collective manifestations’ by ‘creating parties’.
The bookends of the literature used in this paper, are set at 1991 and 2012 over two decades, starting with Patsy Healey’s articles on the development process (Healey 1991, 1992) and ending with David Adam’s very recent article on ‘notional property developers’ (Adams 2012). The literature is first mapped, dissected and surveyed for limitations due to existing theoretical frames. The central tenets of the author’s model are then used as a lens for clarifying inadequacies based on praxis.
The study discovers attraction to the topic by the most erudite of scholars, with often brilliant and revealing high level accounts, which are through sometimes conflicting visors. Amongst this chorus however, the voices are still trying to come to terms with what is really happening on the ground. The article provides increased definition of the property development process from a view of praxis, and an associated way forward for filling gaps in the knowledge base on this important topic.
2012: Association of European Schools of Planning Annual Conference- METU Ankara Turkey.
Article: A View from the Ground: Implications for the literature on ‘models of the development process’.
By Dr Jonathan Drane
The full article is available through the AESOP website on request See contact page