Action learning as an enabler for successful technology transfer with construction SMEs

Abbott, C, Jones, VL, Sexton, MG and Lu, SL 2007, 'Action learning as an enabler for successful technology transfer with construction SMEs' , RICS Research Paper Series, 7 (16) , pp. 1-41.

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There is an increasing demand for construction companies to adopt and use new technologies. At the same time universities are increasingly being called upon to assist with ‘technology transfer’ through positive engagement with industry. However, there is little literature investigating technology transfer from the perspective of small construction companies which make up the overwhelming majority of firms in the sector. This paper contributes to this developing area by providing a literature review of technology transfer and proposing a holistic system required for success. Building upon this review it assesses the potential use of action learning as a means of providing this holistic solution and, in so doing, promoting technology transfer and improving the links between higher education institutions (HEIs) and the construction industry. The assessment is made through a literature review of action learning in construction and an analysis of results from the national Construction Knowledge Exchange (CKE) initiative which uses an action learning methodology to assist HEIs in supporting local construction small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The initial results show that this innovative approach, has been successful in creating synergies between academic and business worlds, helping HEIs to communicate more effectively with businesses and vice versa. However, the results indicate that innovations which small construction companies tend to more successfully adopt are those which can contribute to the business in a quick, tangible fashion, and which can be dovetailed into existing rganisational capabilities. This is found to be in marked contrast to the relevant literature which depict large companies operating in more complex networks, drawing upon them for new tacit and explicit technologies which support more long term, formal technology strategies, and which often complement some form of specialised internal research and development capability. The implication for policy is that any technology transfer initiatives need to appreciate and actively manage the different motivations and capabilities of small and large construction companies to absorb and use new technology.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Built and Human Environment
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment > Centre for Urban Processes, Resilient Infrastructures & Sustainable Environments
Journal or Publication Title: RICS Research Paper Series
Publisher: RICS
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1464-648X
Depositing User: Professor Carl Abbott
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2011 11:57
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 16:08

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