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Title: Retail real estate development in Hungary, with special reference to enclosed shopping centres, retail parks and other large scale solus developments
Author: Morsányi, László
ISNI:       0000 0001 3425 9852
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2007
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Context and overall aims of the work: Retailing and retail planning and development, has been extensively researched over many years in market economies, including the UK. However, in the time of the old command economies of central and Eastern Europe, whilst aspects of planning were reasonably well documented, there had been limited academic research in this subject. During the communist period, the dogmatic application of a Marxist theory of political economy was the only permitted basis for social science. Research activity in this field has thus only made a real start in more recent years. Even after the political and economic changes at the beginning of the 1990s, academics seemed to neglect research into the communist period and concentrated more on the new emerging situation. The retail market activity of the last five to 10 years, by contract has been the focus of much public interest and with it, a growth in considerable research and market commentary, (eg. Seres, 1997; Sari, 2000; Dékâny, 1997; Hatvani 2000; Sikos, 2000). This has been especially so with regard to shopping centres which perhaps have made the biggest physical and social impact on the Hungarian scene. Special focus and scope of the work: Given the above, the special focus of this thesis was to explore the transformation processes in the retail and retail development sector of one central European 'soviet bloc' country: Hungary. Hungary was chosen because it had been something of a pioneer in both state and market orientated reforms and, was the home of the author. This provided a very real opportunity for insight and access to Hungarian experts and witnesses to the changes as well as the written literature, and other sources of information and data. Using these sources, the work attempts to trace and examine the character and significance of retail real estate development in the ten to fifteen years proceeding the fall of its command led economy up and until 2003. In doing so the work also touches on the resolution of ownership problems and associated compensation process, the privatisation of state assets and industries and the establishment of new municipalities and accompanying planning system. Research into the new wave of Hungarian enclosed shopping centres, retail parks and other large-scale solus developments was also seen to present something of a unique opportunity and contribution to the literature. Researching the period prior to and during the fall of the command economy presented a very real challenge. Trying to locate and collect whatever primary information and documents that still existed or could be found, as well as interviewing people who could recollect events and conditions in that period was likely to be difficult. For all this, the decision was nevertheless made to go ahead. However, in addition to interviewing people from the old communist period, current decision makers of the new retail developments were also interviewed along with municipality professionals. Sites visits to both the old retail schemes and new development sites were also crucial in informing the work. Research methodology and paradigm: Given the complexity of the subject and the continuously changing Hungarian socioeconomic environment, the investigation needed a flexible research tool in order to try and understand the phenomena. The opportunity existed to apply a grounded theory approach. After careful consideration and consultation, the suggestion of the Psychological Research Institution of Hungarian Academy of Sciences was accepted in utilising the application of ATLAS.ti software developed for grounded theory analysis. The ATLAS program proved to be a measurable help and stimulation for the work. It also has to be said that without a profound local knowledge and insight of the Hungarian scene, the transformation process can be difficult to follow and the decisions made by many of its major players at a first glance often seem to be totally unfounded or even senseless. A contributory objective of the work is thus, a better understanding of the huge changes that took part and the underlying reasons for them. Given that the work was in part undertaken in the UK, it was thought fruitful that an examination of the UK's retail planning and development market based .system was also undertaken, as it would hopefully provide comparative insights into retail planning and development generally. Findings: The fall of the Soviet Empire that hegan at the end of the 1980s swept through its Central and Eastern European communist satellite states. Hungary was ready to seize the opportunities presented by the change. Whilst the general political philosophy, state organisation and associated military power quite commonly counted these countries as one single bloc, (forced upon them by the then USSR,) there were significant differences in their culture, traditions and stages of economic and political development. This was reflected in the transformation process, even among the so called lead reforming countries of Poland, Czech and Slovak Republics (the former Czechoslovakia), and Hungary. After the Hungarian government's successful socio-economic stabilisation programme was rolled out in the middle of 1990s, a development boom in new enclosed shopping centres and retail parks and other big format retail schemes emerged in Budapest and in other major urban centres. At this same time a retail revolution was also taking place in Western Europe and elsewhere in developed market economies. International retailers, like the UK's Tesco for example, used this moment in time to grasp the opportunity and used it to test new and emerging retail formats in these transition countries. Also at this very same time, international real estate developers, investors and their agents were seeking to establish a presence in Hungary, as part of their international expansion, even if initially unprofitable. The transition period is now substantially over and a new socio-economic and physical landscape has emerged. Hungary's retail infrastructure has substantially caught up from where it was left before the Second World War. Hungarian shops and shopping centres look very much like one might find elsewhere in Western Europe. With the absence of economically and politically powerful and, capital rich Hungarian owned enterprises, the state retail monopolies have to a great extent been replaced by a relatively small number of big international companies. In addition to this, retail transformation was also a key driving force behind much of the overall socio-economic changes in the country. The former command economy state distribution systems with their limited and poor retail supply chain and offer has now been replaced by modern up to date retail formats providing many thousands of square metres of retail space. A wholly new industry has emerged from practically nothing. Retail development has transformed society. People's lives, their way of thinking, marketing and customer preferences have all changed in the most fundamental of ways. Whilst much previous industrially based jobs have disappeared, much of the derelict land left behind by such industries have been redeveloped as retail and leisure based schemes which have provided much needed new opportunities for employment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available