Since corporate real estate management (CREM) emerged in the 1990s, it has been modelled in many ways. The Delft model views the corporate real estate management function as a coordinator of four distinct accommodation perspectives. Although the model has been used in education and practice for years, there is no consensus on its interpretation and application, and various versions circulate. This paper aims to first reconstruct the history of the conceptualisation of the Delft CREM model and then seeks to develop an understanding of its nature that provides clearer interpretations of the model.
Because the developers of the Delft CREM model did not maintain archives, the reconstruction of the model’s genesis is based on the developers’ publications from 1985 to 2015 and eight semi-structured interviews conducted with these developers in 2017 and 2018. The collected information, which was by its very nature incomplete and imperfect, was triangulated, contextualised and assembled chronologically. This served as the basis for an analysis of the model’s nature, which in turn generated a list of practical implications for its future application.
The historical reconstruction revealed two parallel but distinct lines of reasoning, whose resulting models appear similar but are distinct. One line of reasoning models CRE viewpoints, while the other models CRE management activities, i.e. the first line of reasoning models CREM across the organisation, while the second models CREM within the function. These two lines of thought have converged in the research-through-design approach of the developers, which evolved against the backdrop of a growing interest in the contribution of organisational resources to organisational objectives and the emergence of the demand-supply model in management practices in general and in the built environment in particular.
The research is limited to reconstructing the genesis and analysing the nature of the Delft CREM model. It is not intended to provide a conclusive narrative, update the model or compare it to other CREM models. As is typical in oral history, it is based on imperfect documentary evidence and imperfect recollections. The reconstruction and analysis are stepping stones towards a more precise interpretation and application of the model in both research and practice, and may eventually contribute to its evolution. When using the model, it is recommended to (1) be clear about whether the model applies to the CREM department, the entire organisation or the organisation’s environment; (2) be clear about what is being modelled (activities, viewpoints or something else); and (3) use labels that reflect the selections made in (1) and (2).
The value of this paper lies in the historical reconstruction of the intentions of the developers of the four-view scheme, including the detailed analysis of its consecutive graphical representations and the investigation of its relationship with the seminal strategic alignment model.
The authors would like to thank the interviewees: Hans De Jonge, Theo Van Der Voordt, Peter Krumm, Alexandra Den Heijer, Wim Pullen, Geert Dewulf, John Suyker and Frans Evers. The interviews were held in 2017 and 2018.
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