A Report From 2023 IRES President Steve Williams, on IRES’s five global panels.

Steve Williams finds that:

“A shared communications platform could go a long way towards bridging what some called, the ‘research gap’.

Over the years, members of our six sister real estate societies (ARES, ERES, AfRES, PRRES, ASRES, and LARES) have produced an impressive body of global real estate research, collectively casting important fresh wisdom on a broad array of property-related topics.  

Despite this, many practitioners (among them potential research sponsors) complain that, too often, our research outcomes are obscured by unintelligible  statistical analysis. One practitioner went so far as to refer to these sections of a report as ‘mumbo jumbo’.

To dig a little deeper into this issue, I decided to make ‘research relevance’ the theme for our 2023 series of IRES panels at our six sister society conferences. Each panel would debate the extent of any perceived academic-practitioner disconnect in their region and, if finding the practitioners’ claims valid, debate possible solutions.

We kicked off in January 2023 at the PRRES conference in Sydney. This panel’s lively discussion set the scene for subsequent panels at ARES in San Antonio in March, ERES in London, AsRES in Hong Kong in July, and an AfRES panel in Nairobi in  September.   Our moderators included senior academics; Prof. Graeme Newell in Sydney, Prof. Spencer Robinson in San Antonio, myself in London, CBRE’s Dr. Henry Chin in HK, and, in Nairobi, Prof. Francois Viruly.

Without exception, our mix of academic and industry panelists cheered on by  some quite vocal audience interaction, identified a gap between the outcomes of heavily analytical research papers and industry’s need for clear, practical solutions to day-to-day issues. 

There was unanimous consensus that a simple lack of communication lay at the heart of the problem. Industry practitioners felt they were in the dark about the range of research topics currently on offer (many papers seeking sponsorship) while academics – particularly doctoral students and younger faculty members –  were finding it difficult to obtain data and/or collaboration  from  networks of local industry leaders.

The five-member panel of senior practitioners at ERES found themselves talking to a largely academic audience. The practitioners challenged the audience to simplify their research conclusions in language they could understand. The academic audience responded with a robust defense of their papers. Statistical analysis, they pointed out is a prerequisite for ‘getting published’ and frequent publication in peer-reviewed journals is a prerequisite for career advancement.

The animated but amicable debate ended with agreement that better communication was needed.  It was clear that, in each world region and possibly globally, a shared, web-based, communications platform could go a long way towards bridging what had become a clear ‘research gap’.

In summary, the following three conclusions from our IRES panels are worth noting:

1) Both the academics and practitioners need to proactively explore

opportunities for collaborative research.

2) At a minimum, there needs to be a platform where academics can post their planned research topics and practitioners, a list of topics-of-interest.  A simple monthly or quarterly digest could form a quick reference point for both sides.

This led to the practitioners on the panels agreeing they could do more to fund research papers that appeared to address timely and relevant topics.

3) The academic peer-review process should not penalize research papers for

articulating findings in clearly understandable language.

Steve Williams – 2023 IRES President

Steve Williams can be reached at

ARES 2003 President:

Steve Williams, FRICS,

Director – Capright

Mr. Williams has enjoyed a 50-year career in commercial real estate beginning as an appraiser before opening an advisory business. Steve has recently retired from his full-time role as RCA’s Executive Managing Director where he acted as global ambassador to contribute to the company’s international expansion.  Over the years Steve has held prominent leadership roles in the real estate industry including Past President of RICS. He sits on the Board of IRES. Educationally, Steve has been a visiting lecturer at Duke University and a board member of the University of Wisconsin’s Global Real Estate Masters (GREM) program.