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Inside the Growth Machine: Real Estate Professionals on the Perceived Challenges of Urban Development

Inside the Growth Machine: Real Estate Professionals
on the Perceived Challenges of Urban Development

Inside the Growth Machine: Real Estate Professionals
on the Perceived Challenges of Urban Development
Shelley McDonough Kimelberg, Department of Sociolo

The growth machine framework maintains that coalitions of elites work together to promote and adopt policies and practices that best serve their economic interests and propel cities toward growth. While numerous scholars have subjected the growth machine to theoretical and empirical tests, we know little about the beliefs and perspectives of individual actors within the growth machine. To address this gap in the literature, the present research uses in-depth interviews to examine the subjective views of one segment of the growth machine—real estate professionals. The findings demonstrate that these practitioners see the exercise of power at the local level to be less coordinated, consensus-driven, and growth-oriented than the growth machine thesis suggests. Specifically, they see their own power and capacity to act to be constrained by four factors: the (re)-election interests of politicians; the professional interests of municipal economic development staff; bureaucratic procedures and zoning regulations; and mobilized community members and groups. The research concludes with a discussion of the implications for urban political theory and suggestions for future research.