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Abadi, A (2014) A study of innovation perception within the construction industry, Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace & Civil Engineering, University of Manchester.

  • Type: Thesis
  • Keywords: innovation; competitiveness; sensemaking; social constructivism
  • URL: https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/54559942/FULL_TEXT.PDF
  • Abstract:
    There is a long history of criticising the construction industry for its lack of innovation as a source of competitive advantage. However, through a critical literature review, it was found that the problem with managing innovation in construction has its roots in a misconception of innovation and indeed the industry is a source of new ideas. This thesis draws on prior publications in the field of innovation management, organisational narratives and sensemaking theory and aims to analyse innovation perception within the construction industry, focusing on the meanings attributed by the industry’s practitioners and policy makers. In contrast to the dominant positivist and rationalistic approach in studying construction innovation, this research employs a qualitative, interpretative, social constructionist perspective. Data is incorporated through twenty semi-structured interviews with practitioners who work within the UK construction firms as well as UK government reports published regarding the progress review of performance of the construction industry. The findings of the study indicated that there is a disconnection between managerial frameworks of innovation and practitioners’ action and their narratives. Through the viewpoint of sensemaking theory, this study argues that the construction of meaning of innovation is a dynamic process that can be changed constantly over a period of time. In narrating innovation, the practitioners draw on their own real-world experiences of a situation and the characteristics of the organisations which they work in. Moreover, individuals’ stories often are associated with the dominant popular examples of innovation mobilised with the organisational strategic settings and government initiatives in order to provide a shared perspective. This study demonstrates a discursive model of innovation, assigning the individuals’ innovation within an organisation as ’situational innovation’ and ’contextual innovation’ and the government report and policy makers’ innovation as ’rhetorical innovation’. There has been limited application of a narrative approach to innovation in the domain of the construction industry. This thesis has provided theoretical and practical contributions through the application of narrative and innovation within the context of the construction industry. It has also demonstrated the value of the narrative approach to understanding innovation perception within a construction industry context, while identifying its limitations as a research method. The findings of the research further recommend implications for construction industry policy makers. Policy makers can tap into the ’situational innovation’ and ’contextual innovation’ to promote government programmes and policies, especially those concerned with change and innovation in the industry.