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An examination of the interface between commercial property assets and contemporary knowledge-intensive firms - demands, responses and priorities

By Michael Hefferan


Economic and other forces over recent years have resulted in the rise, in size and importance, of a group within the business community known as &quotknowledge-intensive firms". These organisations typically operate in such sectors as information and communication technology, specialist engineering and other services, consulting, research spin-out companies, multimedia, advertising and education and, in effect, trade in the development, management and adaptation of contemporary knowledge. They are often small-to-medium enterprises and use new business and operational models drawing together human and social capital, contemporary ICT, technologies and networks to produce intangible knowledge products. This research work investigates the interface between those firms and the commercial property assets that provide a platform and environment for their activities. The accommodation of significant change may hold challenges for such large-scale built assets. However, this work considers that evolutionary change is achievable and will present new opportunities for property as integrated and adaptable business environments, responsive to changing demands. The research methodology involves a literature review establishing key economic, business, built environment and social capital parameters for these emerging firms and their operations. That review is reinforced by both primary data collection from 36 knowledge-intensive firms and by the investigation of four relevant but diverse case studies. To allow this wide body of information to be distilled, a Delphi process, using a panel of ten experts, has been successfully applied to prioritise the demand drivers for start-up, established and mature knowledge-intensive firms in the South East Queensland environment. Consensus was secured after four rounds. These outcomes have been again tested against the four previous case studies and a further case study not previously investigated. Conclusions establish that these firms do have priority requirements in their demands for commercial property and that such demands evolve as firms progress through their various stages of development. Overall, firms through all development stages were strongly influenced in locational decisions by business plans parameters, the importance of attracting quality staff, and the provision of an office environment most conducive to the performance of these individuals and teams. Only in the early, start-up stage was accommodation cost a determining factor. Further, the research establishes that significant opportunities exist for the development sector, particularly in the re-use of older buildings and in the creation of clusters. To achieve this, however, new approaches to development and asset and property management may be required. As a result of this research, it is anticipated that asset owners and managers will be better able to align both new and existing commercial buildings to these emerging demands and opportunities

Topics: Australian business change, knowledge-intensive firms, tenant demand
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2006
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