Collaboration for innovation in the construction sector: key actors and resource allocation decisions

Maarten Rutten

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

    155 Downloads (Pure)


    When looking at the construction sector’s value chain in its broadest sense, the general picture is that of a fragmented sector. The firms being the fragments. The sector being the whole. Given these circumstances, inter-firm collaboration for innovation is an important path to innovation in the construction sector. Collaborative innovation projects, i.e. projects in which firms join forces to cooperate in the development and commercialization of a new building product or system, represent an example of such collaboration. The research, as described in this thesis, contributes to a better understanding of collaborative innovation projects. It does so by contributing to two lines of previous research. The first line of previous research is that of key actors, i.e. systems integrators and champions, in bringing together firms and resources for innovation. The second line of previous research is that of firms’ decisions to invest resources in a collaborative innovation project; that is, the radar-blank plane experiments conducted by organizational behaviour researchers, and the work on narrative based decision theory. In total, four studies are presented. The principal findings are as follows. Study I indicates that by setting up and coordinating collaborative innovation projects, systems integrators in the construction sector perform a similar central role in collaborative innovation as has been observed in previous research in other industries. Further, study II suggests that champions’ expressions of enthusiasm and confidence in the potential of an innovation might influence firms’ investment decisions to invest resources in the development and commercialization of the innovation by influencing firms’ expectations of the rate of adoption of the innovation. Subsequently, study III illustrates how narrative-based decision theory, a general psychological theory of how people make decisions, might be used as a theoretical lens in analysing and understanding firms’ resource allocation decisions. Lastly, study IV indicates, contrary to what one may expect on the basis of previous research, that firms in a collaborative innovation project are not likely to escalate commitment in the following two situations. Either, when they expect a large loss of sunk costs (i.e. resources already spent) if they would abandon the collaborative innovation project. Or, when the collaborative innovation project has reached an advanced stage The construction sector was, is, and will probably be a fragmented sector. Therefore, the insights provided by the thesis are expected to remain relevant.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Dorée, Andries G., Supervisor
    • Halman, Johannes I.M., Supervisor
    Award date16 Dec 2016
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-4230-2
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2016


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