The real estate industry is closely linked to urban development since space is a major factor of urban competitiveness. On the other hand, a successful property development is dependent on suitable patterns of legal rights, which are specified by the municipality. While this interdependence has been widely discussed in literature (e.g. D´Arcy & Keogh 1999, Renigier-Bilozor et al. 2016), it seems rarely respected by municipalities and property developers in practice. 

Although there are recognizable efforts to synchronize the procedures and processes on both sides, stereotypical prejudices as well as partly divergent objectives seemingly impede a collaborative partnership between municipalities and property developers (Bone-Winkel & Gerstner 2005; Meyer & Pfnür 2015). The consequences of this contradiction are, for example, considerable delays and cost overruns of construction projects, while the causes continue to be a lack of communication and unwillingness to cooperate. It is often underestimated that cooperation is regarded as transgressing borders, and affects not only the objectives of both partners, but also their identities (Willinger 2013; Juch 2012). To achieve an adequate balance of interests, considerations regarding working methods, structures and self-concepts of each entity have to be aligned beforehand. Furthermore, the respective views of “project success” have to be discussed. Both stakeholder groups have a mutual interest in functioning urban structures. To show the potential of jointly maximizing mutual benefits, the action patterns of municipalities and property developers need to be investigated in more detail. Based on these findings, a common culture of cooperation can be developed. Accordingly, the demand for an increase in mutual trust as well as the reduction of information and competence asymmetries can be effectively pursued.

This conference contribution will point out the need to see properties in a contextual view. Especially property developers tend to underestimate the need to see themselves as urban designers. It will also highlight the theoretical structure of cooperation and its inference for the design of partnership-based cooperation between municipalities and property developers. Furthermore, the research method of the Ph.D. project will be presented and put up for discussion.