Social value creation or empty promise? Unpacking the polycentric regulatory strategies of housing governance in Amsterdam


  • Sara Özogul University of Groningen
  • Nagwa Kady University of Amsterdam
  • Tuna Tasan-Kok University of Amsterdam


property market, regulations, governance




Heightened political concerns surrounding housing are intricately tied to intensified regulatory efforts employed by states to oversee activities and processes within residential property markets. This has resulted in the emergence of complex, multilayered, and fragmented governance structures. Concurrently, discussions on housing as a fundamental social value are experiencing a resurgence, notably intertwined with Mazzacuto’s (2018) influential critique, challenging the prevalent understanding of value creation predominantly in economic and financial terms. This paper examines housing governance and its pivotal role in safeguarding social value. Our analysis focuses on three specific regulatory strategies—indirect, multifaceted, and hybrid (Black, 2008)—to illuminate the dispersed nature of contemporary regulatory powers within residential property markets. Empirically, our attention is directed to the Metropolitan Region Amsterdam, where we argue that polycentric regulatory strategies have abstracted the social value of housing in both substantive and procedural dimensions. Indirect strategies are evident in the proliferation of non-binding regulations, offering greater flexibility to property industry actors. Multifaceted regulatory strategies reveal conflicting targets and diverse approaches, ranging from restrictive measures to stimulating property actors’ behaviour. And hybrid strategies underscore collaborative regulatory endeavours, involving public entities, including planners, and financial actors from the property industry. This confluence of factors underscores a dynamic regulatory environment that leans toward lacking specificity and clear public sector strategies for both fostering housing as a social value and effectively managing residential property production, as well as blurred lines between state and property market actors. As such, our analysis contributes to the field of regulatory governance within the realms of planning and housing production, and addresses challenges posed by the financialization of contemporary urban environments in terms of relational dynamics among public and private entities.