The learning capability of construction organisations engaged in collaborative contracting - Literature Review [industry report]

Chen, Le, Manley, Karen, & Lewis, Joanne (2012) The learning capability of construction organisations engaged in collaborative contracting - Literature Review [industry report]. Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane , QLD.



Value for money (VfM) on collaborative construction projects is dependent on the learning capabilities of the organisations and people involved. Within the context of infrastructure delivery, there is little research about the impact of organisational learning capability on project value. The literature contains a multiplicity of often un-testable definitions about organisational learning abilities. This paper defines learning capability as a dynamic capability that participant organisations purposely develop to add value to collaborative projects. The paper reports on a literature review that proposes a framework that conceptualises learning capability to explore the topic. This work is the first phase of a large-scale national survey funded by the Alliancing Association of Australasia and the Australian Research Council.


Desk-top review of leading journals in the areas of strategic management, strategic alliances and construction management, as well as recent government documents and industry guidelines, was undertaken to synthesise, conceptualise and operationalise the concept of learning capability. The study primarily draws on the theoretical perspectives of the resource-based view of the firm (e.g. Barney 1991; Wernerfelt 1984), absorptive capacity (e.g. Cohen and Levinthal 1990; Zahra and George 2002); and dynamic capabilities (e.g. Helfat et al. 2007; Teece et al. 1997; Winter 2003). Content analysis of the literature was undertaken to identify key learning routines. Content analysis is a commonly used methodology in the social sciences area. It provides rich data through the systematic and objective review of literature (Krippendorff 2004). NVivo 9, a qualitative data analysis software package, was used to assist in this process.

Findings and Future Research

The review process resulted in a framework for the conceptualisation of learning capability that shows three phases of learning: (1) exploratory learning, (2) transformative learning and (3) exploitative learning. These phases combine both internal and external learning routines to influence project performance outcomes and thus VfM delivered under collaborative contracts. Sitting within these phases are eight categories of learning capability comprising knowledge articulation, identification, acquisition, dissemination, codification, internationalisation, transformation and application. The learning routines sitting within each category will be disaggregated in future research as the basis for measureable items in a large-scale survey study. The survey will examine the extent to which various learning routines influence project outcomes, as well as the relationships between them. This will involve identifying the routines that exist within organisations in the construction industry, their resourcing and rate of renewal, together with the extent of use and perceived value within the organisation. The target population is currently estimated to be around 1,000 professionals with experience in relational contracting in Australia. This future research will build on the learning capability framework to provide data that will assist construction organisations seeking to maximise VfM on construction projects.

Impact and interest:

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These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

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ID Code: 81228
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: Learning capability, Construction management, Infrastructure, Australian, Collaborative contracting
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Authors & Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 Jan 2015 03:23
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2015 05:52

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