Industry Relationships

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Industry Relationships Several studies have highlighted the importance of construction industry relationships for innovation (Anderson and Manseau, 1999; Miozzo and Dewick, 2002; Dubois and Gadde, 2002). The importance of relationships rests in their capacity to encourage knowledge flows through interactions and transactions between individuals and firms. Dubois and Gadde (2002) termed the nature of construction relationships as ‘loose couplings’, describing the temporary coalitions of firms that coalesce to complete a project, and then disband. As Dubois and Gadde (2001) argue, while localized adaptations can take place, however, “loose coupling could also forestall the spread of advantageous mutations” (p. 14). Gann and Salter (2000) and Winch (1998) work echo the same argument that the construction industry structure may facilitate innovation at the project level, while simultaneously making it difficult to diffuse across the industry. Lessons learned are often not ‘codified’ and thus lost to future projects. In addition, the constantly changing learning environment of firms and individuals’ inhibit their ability to build‘ cognitive structures’ conducive to learning (Blayse and Manley, 2004). Blayse and Manley (2004) argue that tighter ‘couplings’ among firms and individuals involved in construction projects are likely to be more supportive of innovation. However, other work by Blackley and Shepard (1996) may not support this hypothesis. Blackley and Shepard (1996) looked at the adoption of innovation among 417 homebuilders; and their results did not support the argument that the diffusion rate for innovations is reduced by the fragmented industry structure. It should be highlighted that Blackley and Shepard (1996) study ent... ... middle of paper ... ...eve the results of innovation (Blayse and Manley, 2004). Indeed, the work of Gould and Fernandez (1989), Hargadon and Sutton (1997); Dekker et al. (2000, 2003), Thursfield et al. (2004), Aalbers et al. (2004, Cillo (2005) and Fleming et al. (2005) are but a few of the studies that emphasise the role of brokers in facilitating knowledge exchange in organisational and inter-organisational teams. Innovation brokers in the construction industry may include professional bodies, universities and other higher education institutions, Construction research bodies, academics and researchers. Innovation brokers can act as producers and repositories of knowledge (Gann, 2001; Winch, 1998), as well as intermediaries and disseminators of this knowledge (Manseau, 2003). In some cases, they may also act as "space" for evaluating the merits of competing technologies (Winch, 1998)..
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