Innovation in construction : a case study of the Australian context

Manley, Karen & Kajewski, Stephen L. (2011) Innovation in construction : a case study of the Australian context. In de Valence, Gerard (Ed.) Modern Construction Economics : Theory and Application. Spon Press (Taylor & Francis), Oxon, Abingdon, pp. 135-153.

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The dominant economic paradigm currently guiding industry policy making in Australia and much of the rest of the world is the neoclassical approach. Although neoclassical theories acknowledge that growth is driven by innovation, such innovation is exogenous to their standard models and hence often not explored. Instead the focus is on the allocation of scarce resources, where innovation is perceived as an external shock to the system. Indeed, analysis of innovation is largely undertaken by other disciplines, such as evolutionary economics and institutional economics.

As more has become known about innovation processes, linear models, based on research and development or market demand, have been replaced by more complex interactive models which emphasise the existence of feedback loops between the actors and activities involved in the commercialisation of ideas (Manley 2003). Currently dominant among these approaches is the national or sectoral innovation system model (Breschi and Malerba 2000; Nelson 1993), which is based on the notion of increasingly open innovation systems (Chesbrough, Vanhaverbeke, and West 2008).

This chapter reports on the ‘BRITE Survey’ funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Construction Innovation which investigated the open sectoral innovation system operating in the Australian construction industry. The BRITE Survey was undertaken in 2004 and it is the largest construction innovation survey ever conducted in Australia. The results reported here give an indication of how construction innovation processes operate, as an example that should be of interest to international audiences interested in construction economics.

The questionnaire was based on a broad range of indicators recommended in the OECD’s Community Innovation Survey guidelines (OECD/Eurostat 2005). Although the ABS has recently begun to undertake regular innovation surveys that include the construction industry (2006), they employ a very narrow definition of the industry and only collect very basic data compared to that provided by the BRITE Survey, which is presented in this chapter.

The term ‘innovation’ is defined here as a new or significantly improved technology or organisational practice, based broadly on OECD definitions (OECD/Eurostat 2005). Innovation may be technological or organisational in nature and it may be new to the world, or just new to the industry or the business concerned. The definition thus includes the simple adoption of existing technological and organisational advancements.

The survey collected information about respondents’ perceptions of innovation determinants in the industry, comprising various aspects of business strategy and business environment. It builds on a pilot innovation survey undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for the Australian Construction Industry Forum on behalf of the Australian Commonwealth Department of Industry Tourism and Resources, in 2001 (PWC 2002).

The survey responds to an identified need within the Australian construction industry to have accurate and timely innovation data upon which to base effective management strategies and public policies (Focus Group 2004).

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ID Code: 38434
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Innovation, Construction, Australia
ISBN: 9780415397063
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > BUILDING (120200) > Building Construction Management and Project Planning (120201)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Spon Press (Taylor & Francis)
Copyright Statement: All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
Deposited On: 11 Nov 2010 01:33
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2016 16:28

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