The purpose of this paper is to assess alternative economic explanations of buildings’ height in Latin America and Chile, inductively producing a theory about skyscrapers’ height in emerging countries. In the quest for height, global exposure as advertising guides developers located in emerging economies, while ego-building for investors.
This paper uses mixed methods triangulation (MMT). Findings with small sample econometrics for 38 cities from 13 different countries are re-interpreted by linguistically analyzing 11 semi-structured interviews with local experts in Santiago.
Globalization is the main determinant of skyscrapers height in the Latin American region, its interaction with the need to portray management and technical skills of developer firms, determines a process toward over-construction.
Because of small sample bias, the quantitative results are not fully reliable, but this is precisely why it makes sense to use MMT.
Santiago offers a valuable case study because, on the one hand, Chile was the first Latin American country to undertake neoliberal type reforms, as early as 1973. On the other, the tallest Latin American skyscraper is to be completed in this city by 2015. The theory developed, derived from the evidence and the perceptions, has a Global South reach and can open-up an empirical research agenda.
This paper innovates in real estate research by using MMT, not just to confirm quantitative findings, but as an inductive theory building tool. It also analyses Latin America, a region with scarce presence in the literature.
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