Towards 3D-enabled urban land administration: invisible constraints and strategic choices
AuthorHo, Serene Shih Lynn
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2014 Dr. Serene Shih Lynn Ho
In cities around the world, the confluence of myriad factors – including physical constraints of land, affordable housing, the desire for architectural articulation as a status symbol, political platforms that encourage infill development, urbanisation pressures, population growth and sustainability imperatives – serves to stimulate developments with structural and functional designs that produce ever more complex land and property rights, restrictions and responsibilities (RRRs). Of great concern are those RRRs associated with high-rise buildings as they become adopted for residential purposes and are set to be the dominant urban form. Complex RRRs are often abstract cognitive concepts. The extent of these RRRs exist as invisible volumes of (3D) space whose legal definition relies on paper-based plans using areabased (2D) concepts. The limitations of these current practices are becoming apparent – there is growing recognition, concern and evidence that complex 3D RRRs are not being clearly recorded and represented. Accurate, unambiguous and comprehensible information about land and property RRRs plays a key role in every society, least of which is to underpin well-functioning land markets as a pillar of national and global economies; it is also the foundation of land administration systems. To provide more proficient land and property systems better able to deal with such complexity, the land registration industry, which produces, registers and manages RRRs, is at a crossroad: how to negotiate change to leverage 3D technological innovations. To date, a tendency to focus on technical developments has left unattended the social and cultural – institutional – issues that are fundamental to successful innovation. Yet throughout the history of innovation, these are the very issues consistently found to lie at the heart of progress. As such, no jurisdiction has yet to successfully implement 3D innovations for representing property ownership. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap. It documents an exploratory study that aims to develop understanding of institutional issues in the context of urban land administration as an important precursor to facilitating the development of strategies to support change. This study uses a multiple case study approach: two interpretive case studies were undertaken as studies into key land administration functions that support urban high-rise development, before findings to the research questions were developed through cross-case analysis and synthesis. The City of Melbourne provided the context for understanding institutional barriers to change relevant to regulatory subdivision and registration processes, while the city-state of Singapore provided the context for understanding institutional aspects of strategies perceived to be successful in inducing conformity to 3D innovation relevant to regulatory development processes. Data was collected through several channels including interviews, organisational documents and publicly available materials, industry placement programs and participant observation. Institutional theory provided a framework for conceptualising and analysing the range (and basis) of institutional issues around changing longstanding 2D practices in a regulated, multi-stakeholder environment. Thematic analysis of the data supported the emergence of key themes that directly responded to the research objectives. The research revealed that resistance to change is essentially associated with a limited build up of legitimacy around the need for change, a consequence of history serving to consolidate and deeply-embed current 2D-based practices, conditioning industry, organisations and professions to accept this as ‘appropriate’ behaviour. This undermines the ability to build the requisite legitimacy to compel and motivate change towards a 3D-based land and property paradigm, a fundamental requirement of institutional change. This is perceived to be immensely difficult to shift. Yet the research also revealed that it is possible to shift these seemingly intractable institutional issues if the appropriate institutional pressure is exerted. The findings indicate that the characteristics of the land administration industry, such as dependency on the state for regulatory approval and the clear dominance of professions, are likely to be responsive to strategies that exert coercive and normative institutional pressure as a way of inducing conformity to change. Most importantly, the research showed that change was possible in a reasonable timeframe if sufficient legitimacy was cultivated around the reasons for change. However, visible, incisive leadership is then required to direct this into clear actions to make change a reality. Consequently, one of the key outcomes of the research has been to use the findings derived from cross-case analysis and synthesis to develop a framework of strategic institutional principles that is intended to guide key decision-makers in designing a change path. Cultivation of legitimacy around 3D innovation must necessarily be a first principle in any roadmap designed to support the realisation of 3D-enabled urban land administration.
Keywordscadastres; urban; land administration; 3D; institutional theory; organisational institutionalism
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