The public role of private developers: Analysis of strategy and communication in suburban real estate development processes

Dorothy Ives Dewey, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation looks at the activities of private real estate developers in their efforts to develop large planned communities. In contrast to conventional images of development which represent the process as sequential, presented is an interactive model of real estate development. This representation depicts the development process as long term, interactive and cooperative. In contrast to the planning literature that treats private developers as one of many interests and the public planner as the central coordinator, the image presented centralizes the role of the developer. Using three case studies of planned communities in suburban communities outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this dissertation examines developer activities with particular regard to their interactions with local public officials and interest groups. Emphasis is placed on the public role of the private developer. The case studies analyze the various local actors and institutions that shape development policy. Game theory is employed to assess the interactions between private development interests and local political interests. Interpretive theory is employed to assess the intentions and motivations of the various players and to illuminate the significance of social variables. There is particular attention to the function and nature of communication in the development process. This work adopts a political economic framework to assess interactions stemming from competing land interests in a suburban economy. The major contribution is the incorporation of social variables in to political economic models. Many implications are discussed including those for real estate development practice and for local regulation of development and development policy.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Political science

Recommended Citation

Dewey, Dorothy Ives, "The public role of private developers: Analysis of strategy and communication in suburban real estate development processes" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9814835.