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Paper info: Policy and industry views of innovation in construction


Policy and industry views of innovation in construction


Lena Bygballe
Norwegian School of Management
Lena Bygballe and Malena Ingemansson

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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During the last decades, the construction industry has been a political target for not being
sufficiently innovative. At the same time, public funding to construction-related research and
development (R&D) has decreased in several countries, which indicates a shift in terms of
state involvement in the construction industry as well as the housing situation.
This paper investigates policy and industry views of construction innovation, and compares
these views with recent theoretical conceptions of innovation based on a network perspective.
The study draws on a review of government documents on construction R&D funding, public
statistics, surveys and CEO interviews in both the Swedish and Norwegian construction
industry. The findings reveal that the governmental bodies facilitating and funding
construction R&D and the construction industry itself, display partly different views of
innovation, both in terms of what innovation actually means and what spurs innovation in this
particular setting. While the policy view, particularly in Sweden, is dominated by the need for
more competition, the industry perceives the client as the most important driving force for
renewal and innovation, as well as closer collaboration with both customers and suppliers.
The industry has, however, as yet failed to establish the required couplings with external
sources for renewal, which is attributed to the strong emphasis on price in all parts of the
industry. The contribution of the paper is twofold: firstly, it discusses reasons for the different
views and their implications for innovation practice, and secondly, it suggests some key
policy and managerial implications of the study based on a network perspective of the
business landscape.
Keywords: Innovation, construction industry, policy, views, network perspective