Building coalitions, deconstructing the developer: a relational view on real estate developer activities and risk mitigation

Authors: Frances Brill*, University College London
Topics: Urban Geography, Africa
Keywords: Johannesburg, Real Estate, Developers, London, Urban Geography, Financialisation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: St. Charles, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Real estate developers are in part driven by investors’ needs (Searle, 2014), but through the lifecycle of a development project other factors play important but varying roles in influencing their actions. Our research, speaking from Modderfontein, Johannesburg to Kings Cross, London, unpacks the category of developer within megaprojects to show the multiplicity of agents who engage in the project and how their priorities influence developer strategies. In doing so we respond to the call for a more multidimensional analysis of developers (Campbell et al., 2013; Cioacetto, 2001) and illustrate how new analytical frameworks are needed to more accurately understand developer motives. This paper argues that a networked analysis which recognises the inherently sociological nature of developer activity provides a more accurate framework for understanding how agency evolves during a project. In turn, we highlight that the financialised dimensions of developers emerge in different ways, moving past seeing they as profit-seekers to show how they deal with the ‘other side of the equation’ to mitigate risk. Ultimately this reinforces the notion of the developer as a co-ordinating force situated within dynamic relationships which respond to changing developmental environments and agendas.

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