Innovation in small, project-based construction firms

Barrett, PS and Sexton, MG 2006, 'Innovation in small, project-based construction firms' , British Journal of Management, 17 (4) , pp. 331-346.

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Relevant literature is synthesized to provide a holistic picture of our current knowledge of innovation in small, project-based firms, highlighting significant gaps in the broad areas of ‘focus and outcome’, ‘organizational capabilities’, ‘context’ and ‘process’. Research findings from fieldwork focused on the construction industry are offered to address these gaps. In particular, a consensus model is given of the organizational factors dynamically at play. It is shown that typically the innovations of small, projectbased firms are closely tied to their operational activities and are pushed forward by owners who utilize very scarce resources to make progress in the interstices of normal business. This leads to an emphasis on taking up established technologies through ‘learning on the job’. Growth per se is not an important target. The motivation to act is generally to get past a survival mode of operating and to achieve stability by satisfying clients. These characteristics contrast with large organizations, especially in terms of the role of the owner, the close focus on niche markets and the lack of slack resources to innovate in parallel with normal business. It is hoped that these results will be of interest to other sectors where small, project-based firms operate.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The definitive version is available at
Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD0028 - 0070 Management. Industrial Management
Subjects / Themes > T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Built and Human Environment
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Schools > School of the Built Environment > Centre for Urban Processes, Resilient Infrastructures & Sustainable Environments
Journal or Publication Title: British Journal of Management
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 10453172
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2007 12:42
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 22:02

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