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The framework underpinning conflicting keys in sustainability: harmony‐in‐transit

Anita M.M. Liu (Department of Real Estate and Construction, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China)

Property Management

ISSN: 0263-7472

Article publication date: 1 May 2006




This paper proposes a conceptual framework underpinning the conflicting key elements in analyzing sustainable development (SD) of real estate property and the environment.


The key elements in the framework are the economic, the socio‐environment, the socio‐economic and the legal systems which represent different competing values.


The competing values framework encompasses the development of environmental legislation and other governmental policies towards environmental sustainability of construction activities. The competing values which direct policy‐making are modelled as short term (resource exploitation) versus long term (resource sustainability) and flexibility (freedom in land use/development) versus control (planning and building laws). As people attain harmonious outcome (intra‐ and inter‐group) in arriving at consensus and directions towards “SD” they do so as members of a complex social organism that has multiple group memberships, interests and loyalties.

Research limitations/implications

As loyalties and interests shift, harmony is in transit, and directions of actions and attitudes change as a function of time. The choice of (potentially conflicting) attainable goals towards SD is a consequence of power play amongst stakeholders.

Practical implications

The paper is important in highlighting the main issues in conceptualizing key conflicting elements in the formulation of policies for SD.


A definition of harmony relating to social exchanges and cultural settings with emphasis on dynamic equilibrium is proposed for the formulation of “SD” policies.



Liu, A.M.M. (2006), "The framework underpinning conflicting keys in sustainability: harmony‐in‐transit", Property Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 219-231.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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