Midlevel professionals as “knowledge actors”: impacts on knowledge mobility and the transnational urban development

Authors: Venetsiya Dimitrova*,
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Careers and professional development
Keywords: midlevel professionals, global architects, knowledge practices, knowledge and labour mobility, globalization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Marshall South, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the last two decades, the field of architecture has been transformed through the increasing dominance of new built environment professionals, namely global architects. Due to their reputation, and expertise, these actors are sought out worldwide by governments and private investors, gaining thus power in design and planning processes, and influencing the transnational urban development. In order to understand these restructuring processes, manifold cross-disciplinary studies have focused on the knowledge practices of high status global architects, neglecting hereby the role and expertise of midlevel professionals, who work for the “stars”. Yet, these less prominent actors are crucial for the generation, implementation and circulation of design and planning principles, for their translation into new spatial and institutional contexts, and thus for the functioning and growing dominance of global architectural firms. By conducting narrative interviews, the paper explores the complex set of knowledge practices that these agents acquire through training and working experience, and develop to respond to globalization processes and growing demand for labour mobility. As midlevel professionals are often exposed to labour-intensive, underpaid and intermittent employment, these knowledge practices are strongly interwoven with their career development, impacting the individual becoming as well. Yet, namely these practices are essential for ‘anchoring’ globalization. By exploring knowledge practices empirically, midlevel professionals are revealed as key “knowledge actors” in global urbanism; they facilitate the dissemination of urban forms, best practices and policies; they shape cross-regional networks of knowledge and transnational learning, taking hereby charge of the transnational production of the built and urban environment.

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