GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Mr. David
Title of Paper:
The value of diversity: beyond the free-gift freehold villa
Paper Proposal Text :
Is diversity of government activity, program, and product type an asset to a nation or a liability? And if it is an asset, how does it arise and how can it be encouraged?

Throughout the Gulf region today, government agencies charged with housing responsibilities have used supply-side approaches – building more homes – to address their housing deficit. Often this is their sole activity. Further, the housing thus produced is often a market-plus large home or villa, and it may be delivered as a freehold ownership interest, omitting other possible tenure alternatives. One intervention, one configuration, one tenure.

When the government plays a vertically integrated role – say, zoning, developing, building, selling, and financing the sale – its delivery system tends to leave no points of entry or contact for the private sector, so the government delivery becomes a self-contained world uninfluenced by the market and not influencing the market. Conversely, when the government involves private-sector parties in development, ownership, management, or financing, government can both lever the private sector's capacity to move at speed and harness its competitiveness of one company with another to create greater efficiencies in the system.

As a result, affordable housing delivery and finance ecosystems around the world tend to begin simply, with government playing only one or two roles, and become more complex as they mature. That maturity and complexity may take place over generations or decades, but can in some situations be accelerated. Government can introduce new innovations strategically and sequentially based on finding the boundary between commercial and non-commercial activity, and then shifting the risk or profitability profiles through shrewd programmatic intervention. Government can also use its sovereign resources and authorities to provide suitably measured subsidy and to risk-mitigate at the margin. Each step builds on the ecosystem that came before and adds new programs and resources, which brings in new private-sector players and creates new industries and value chains. So the ecosystem evolves in a series of overlapping 'generations' that cluster particular programs and player, each generation giving way to the next.

Drawing on an extensive review of housing policy development in more than 12 countries, this paper will explore governments have facilitated the beneficial evolution of its ecosystem. With a meta-analysis of these cases, the paper will identify trends and make recommendations for how nation can observe and describe its ecosystem typologically and taxonomically, how it can identify potential peer-group nations and forerunners or parallel-evolving countries' ecosystems, and how it can use this knowledge to develop a strategic plan for ecosystemic growth and an implementation plan to manage their change and growth and to lead and continuously extend its vision.