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Publication Detail
Sourcing and commodifying knowledge for investment and development in cities
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Brill F, Raco M
  • Publisher:
    Informa UK Limited
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Urban Geography
  • Status:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    London, consultants, real estate, urban development, knowledge production
  • Notes:
    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
In this paper we analyse the role of knowledge and research teams in urban development, drawing on the case of London’s residential market. We argue that in large real estate advisory firms, the brokers and consultants who mediate the arrival of investment into a particular site or city are reliant on research teams, which are often hidden from public awareness and under-researched in academic discussions. To acquire sufficient data to meet research demands, advisory firms have vertically integrated new types of knowledge through the acquisition of firms working “at the coal face”, exemplified by estate agencies. Firms commodify the knowledge acquired to reinforce an oligopoly of development consultancy in London. Ultimately, this role – helping other estate professionals navigate the politicized nature of residential development through research-driven work – increases the cost and complexity of urban development processes. Empirically, we critically interrogate: the ways in which knowledge practices are institutionalized at a corporate level and then integrated into wider development practices; the role of specific teams within these practices; and how such knowledge-based activities enable the active seeking out of new geographies of investment. Theoretically, this paper advances urban studies by demonstrating the complementary nature of quantitative and qualitative knowledge. It also uncovers, unpacks and evaluates the activities of under-researched parts of the real estate profession, consultancies, in turn suggesting the ways in which knowledge and expertise have consequences for urban development and investment.
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