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Paper info: The innovation journey in construction: the complementarity of formal and informal dynamics


The innovation journey in construction: the complementarity of formal and informal dynamics


Florence Crespin-Mazet, Karine Goglio Primard,
Malena Ingemansson Havenvid
Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm
Malena Ingemansson Havenvid and
Ĺse Linné
Uppsala University
Ĺse Linné

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 35th IMP-conference in Paris, France in 2019.


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The construction sector is often identified as less innovative than other industries due to its project-based character and the lack of long-term relationships. This problem is suggested to originate from the disconnection between the temporary project environment and the permanent organization of firms. The paper addresses this disconnection through the following research question: How can construction firms capitalize on new ideas and solutions across local and global company levels and their temporary and permanent networks in generating innovation? While IMP studies highlight the key role of interaction and high-involvement relationships in innovation processes, few studies provide an in-depth analysis of how these innovation processes transcend different organizational levels: i.e. from project level to firm level and vice versa. The community-of-practice literature focuses on the individual and group dynamics and hence provides complementary insights to innovation in networks. The paper draws on a critical case which we use to develop IMP theory, specifically contributing to innovation in networks. The results highlight that innovation in construction requires a connecting mechanism between top-down (global firm level) and bottom-up (local firm and project level) processes for idea development to turn into company-wide knowledge and practices. In this regard, communities of practice can play a key role in functioning as “vessels” for ideas and knowledge in both directions. However, formal hierarchical structures and business networks are then required for new solutions to turn into widespread innovation