There has been a growth in interest in comparative housing and urban research over the past 20 years. In part this reflects the growing influence of supranational forms of governance, such as through the European Union, the exercise of 'soft' power through the promulgation of certain ways doing things (e.g. OECD) and the growing integration of economies through trade and economies. The Global Financial Crisis began with a crisis in the US sub-prime mortgage market - but continues to have world-wide consequences. Comparative research is also increasingly undertaken in the search of successful policy transfer, especially in an age of fiscal austerity.
Members of the group has a strong track record in conducting comparative and international research and consultancy for a variety of agencies, including the European Commission, European Parliament, OECD, Council of Europe Development Bank, UN-Habitat, UN-Economic Commission for Europe, as well as for overseas governments, including New Zealand and Finland.
I-SPHERE is an institutional member of the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR), and Mark Stephens has been an ENHR Committee member for more than 10 years. Glen Bramley is a co-ordinator of the ENHR Working Group on Metropolitan Dynamics and Mark Stephens is a co-ordinator if its Working Group on Comparative Housing Research. Mark Stephens and Michelle Norris have just produced an edited collection Meaning and Measurement in Comparative Housing Research (Routledge, 2014) based on one of the working group's meetings.