Expert problem solving practice in commercial property valuation: an exploratory study

Date02 July 2018
Publication Date02 July 2018
AuthorAbdul-Rasheed Amidu,David Boyd
SubjectProperty management & built environment,Real estate & property,Property valuation & finance
Expert problem solving practice
in commercial property valuation:
an exploratory study
Abdul-Rasheed Amidu
Department of Property, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, and
David Boyd
Faculty of Technology Engineering and the Environment,
Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper i s to identify the core dime nsions of problem solvin g of experts
in commercial valuati on in order to provide a rich s timulus for managing cu rrent practice and enabl ing
future development.
Design/methodology/approach The study adopted a cognitive position but emphasised understanding
the everyday commercial property valuation practice in a naturalistic context and from the participants
perspectives. Given this, a grounded theory approach was employed as a research strategy to guide the data
collection and surface theoretical interpretations. Data were obtained through in-depth interviews with
practicing valuers working in private real estate firms within metropolitan Birmingham, UK.
Findings The interviews uncover four dimensions of expertsproblem-solving practice in commercial
valuation: multidimensional, domain-specific knowledge base; cognitive process that is centred on analysis
and reflection; collaborative problem-solving venture with colleagues; and professional practice issues
awareness. A conceptual model is proposed which integrates these dimensions enabling a clearer
understanding of the nature of valuation work.
Research limitations/implications This study was designed to be descriptive and theory generating,
thus, the findings cannot be generalised as the sample wasconfined to one city and consists of a small number
of senior practicing valuers. Therefore, the findings may not be fully applicable to other practicing valuers,
other geographical locations or more widely to other types of property valuation. Nevertheless, the findings
provide an important cognitive framework which can be verified by other researchers seeking to examine the
practice of expert valuers.
Practical implications The identification of the core dimensions of expert problem solving in commercial
property valuation is shown to have implications for valuation practice, education and continued research.
The valuation practice environments need to develop mechanisms to provide time that would enable these
multi-dimensions of professional competence to be developed. Further work is needed to expand and refine
the model across expert practice in other specialty areas of valuation practice.
Originality/value This study expands the curr ent understanding of va luation process to area s
of expertise that have r eceived less coverage in be havioural valuation l iterature, that is, the c entral
role of knowledge and cog nition and how these are integrated for effe ctive valuation problem solving and
decision making.
Keywords Professionaldevelopment, Commercial property, Problem solving, Expertise, Practicecompetence,
Valuation profession
Paper type Research paper
The concept of expertise has an extensive literature and this continues to be developed
(Gobet, 2016; van Winkelen and McDermott, 2010). In every field of human endeavour,
there is interest in exploring expertise in order to understand how professionals
develop and how knowledge is used to solve problems in practice. The contention here is
that knowing more about what experts do, what they know, how they think and how
they solve problems in practice is essential for a continued advancement of a profession
and development of professionals (Ericsson, 1996; Sternberg and Horvath, 1995;
Benner et al., 1996).
Journal of Property Investment &
Vol. 36 No. 4, 2018
pp. 366-382
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JPIF-05-2017-0037
Received 10 May 2017
Revised 27 July 2017
13 August 2017
Accepted 15 August 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Positions on expertise are various and heavily differentiated (Farrington-Darby and
Wilson, 2006). They can be roughly split into experiential and cognitive positions.
The experiential (Dreyfus and Dreyfus, 1986; Benner et al., 1996) focuses on
the outcomes of practice and the context in which it occurs thus emphasising the
developmental and contingent aspects of practice. Skills are then learnt in practice and
are continually refined in their performance. The cognitive (Hoffman, 1998; Gobet, 2016)
focuses on knowledge and thinking thus emphasising analysis and problem solving.
Skills are then related to understanding and competence, which can be developed formally
and can be tested.
The complexityof valuation practice includesformal aspects that are framed byregulation
and calculationwhilst at the same time involving judgementand an awareness of the context
of practice (Amidu, 2016). Much previous research into valuation practice (e.g. Diaz, 1990a;
Diaz and Hansz,2001) adopts a behavioural perspectivewhere the ideal that optimal decisions
can be made and compared to the decisions of experts is ascertained by using statistical
models. The claim thusfocused on the need to understand how people makethe choices they
do with the view that understanding the way people make decisions on what they do on
average ultimatelyprovides decision-making guidance (Farrington-Darby and Wilson, 2006).
Although empirical studies ofexpertise from valuation domainseem to have given support to
this claim, they do not develop an understanding of how experts practice in commercial
property valuation with the knowledgeexperts hold, how they engage in reasoning andother
related behavio urs during val uation problem s olving.
This paper explores these critical aspects about expertise. The research adopts a
cognitive position but recognises that aspects of the experiential are important for practice.
It seeks to illuminate the practice of valuation by providing an understanding of how expert
valuers see their role in commercial property valuation, how they gather and apply
information and how contexts guide their valuation problem solving. Understanding expert
practice from these aspects can help in the creation of entry-level and continuing educational
programs as well as in structuring the valuation practice to facilitate the process of
developing expertise.
The paper provides a brief description of the different approaches used to explore
expertise and the study of expertise in the field of property valuation. It explains and
justifies the empirical study which adopted a grounded theory study of expert valuers.
The analysis of the findings surfaced a number of dimensions of expertsvaluation problem
solving which are used here to report the findings. A conceptual model of valuation
problem solving is presented and used to show interrelationship between the dimensions
identified so that conclusions and further implications can be drawn.
Understanding valuation expertise
Understanding how experts develop in their subject domain is a traditional task of cognitive
psychology. Within this framework, the first generation of theories of expertise focused on
the central role of problem-solving skills. Experts are thus perceived as people who hold a
set of decision-making strategies that can be used to solve problems (Holyoak, 1991;
Newell and Simon, 1972). In valuation, researchers studied the relationship between
valuation decision making and valuersperformance and this led to the realisation of
valuersinability to provide accurate commercial property valuations (Brown, 1985, 1992;
Hager and Lord, 1985; Adair et al., 1996; Brown et al., 1998; Crosby et al., 1998;
Hutchison et al., 1995). In Brown et al. (1998), for instance, it was demonstrated that there
was only a one in five chance of valuers recording value estimates that lie within 10 per cent
margin of the eventual sale price of a property. Crosby et al. (1998) also concluded that there
is a two in three possibility that different valuers would report value estimates that vary
within 10 per cent of each other.

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