Land speculation that occurs on the urban border can be very problematic to the healthy development of cities—critical to economic growth. Speculative land investors, concerned with profits from trading in landed property, can especially affect developing countries where regulation is often poorly controlled and overly bureaucratic. An investigation into the factors motivating land speculators operating in the urban fringe of the city of Shashemene, Ethiopia is examined. The paper, in addition to contributing to the literature, is the second-known attempt and extension of the authors’ pilot research to study the behavior of land speculators in the urban fringe of a growing Ethiopian city. A theoretical framework and conceptual breakdown are put together with historical reference to early land speculation examples. Two questionnaires were separately administered with a representative random sample of 159 members from the local land developer association (i.e., investors) and 24 senior officials from the study area. A principal component analysis categorized the most significant dynamics in controlling land speculation procurements. Results indicated motivational reasoning as the prime cause for speculative activities. Evidence indicated that land speculation is a critical dynamic for self-worth especially with business-oriented persons. Entropy, the disorder of the communicative data, suggests a possible rethinking of the way government should intervene in the urban property market. As such, developmental smart cities in Ethiopia must thoroughly consider the dynamisms of speculative activities and its effects on local housing as it moves forward–in the 2020s.
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