FIG Peer Review Journal


Institutions, Complexity, and the Land (2919)

Spike Boydell (Australia)
Professor Dr Spike Boydell
Professor of the Built Environment
University of Technology, Sydney
School of the Built Environment
Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
PO Box 123
NSW 2007
Corresponding author Professor Dr Spike Boydell (email: spike.boydell[at], tel.: +61 2 9514 8675)

[ abstract ] [ handouts ] [ handouts ]

Published on the web 2008-03-21
Received 2008-01-31 / Accepted 2008-03-14
This paper is one of selection of papers published for the FIG Working Week 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden and has undergone the FIG Peer Review Process.

FIG Working Week 2008
ISBN 978-87-90907-67-9 ISSN 2307-4086


The importance of the institutional and organisational development of land administration has been recognised by the establishment of a FIG Presidential Task Force. This paper develops aspects of property theory and institutional analysis through the lens of complexity, to support and contextualise the work of the Task Force. The institutions associated with land administration are living evolving systems that require a different approach in order to model their intricacies. The concept of institutions and good governance is introduced through an explanation of the ‘rules’ influencing human behaviour. The debate surrounding the individualisation of land titles in a developing country land administration system is challenged. Critical to dealing with the complexity of the institutions surrounding land administration is an appreciation of the multiple stakeholders, together with an understanding of their respective aspirations and the framework of social definitions. The notion of complexity is contextualised from the perspective of small island developing states (SIDS) in the Pacific. The foregoing highlights the need for the development, and acceptance, of a robust theory of the institutional change process. The significant contribution of this paper is provided by evolving a hybrid model applicable to institutional development and change. The model draws on the work of Smagl and Larson, and synergises it with the volitional pragmatism offered by Bromley. The paper concludes this short theoretical grounding by highlighting the need for a ‘shared imagination’ for institutional change in land administration that can inform and underpin the FIG Presidential Task Force on Institutional and Organisational Development.
Keywords: Land management; Land distribution; Security of tenure; Access to land; Institutions; Complexity; Land Administration; Property Theory