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Factors influencing technical innovation in construction SMEs: an Australian perspective

Mary Hardie (School of Engineering, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Graeme Newell (School of Economics and Finance, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 8 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The intent of this research is to determine whether any common lessons can be drawn from the experience of individuals who have gone against the trend and delivered successful technical innovations in construction small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Design/methodology/approach

A value tree of contributing factors to technical innovation was developed from the literature and tested by surveying established technical innovators using analytic hierarchy process methodology. This approach aimed at capturing the experience of company decision makers who manage to deliver successful change with limited resources.

Findings

The results reveal the importance of supportive clients and performance‐based building standards for innovative practice in construction. Significant differences were observed between small and medium‐sized companies and between product and process innovators.

Research limitations/implications

In order to avoid a skewed sample, considerable effort was made to ensure that all survey participants had significant peer recognition as innovators. A high response rate (75 percent) from the target group also contributed to the reliability of the sample.

Social implications

Industry employment rates and profitability are both positively correlated with high rates of innovation in many industries. Innovative solutions to environmental and social problems have potential benefits for the future direction of the construction industry, which is perceived as lagging somewhat in these areas.

Originality/value

The paper provides suggestions for managers of construction firms who wish to improve innovation performance rates by studying the insights of successful innovators in their field.

Keywords

Citation

Hardie, M. and Newell, G. (2011), "Factors influencing technical innovation in construction SMEs: an Australian perspective", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 618-636. https://doi.org/10.1108/09699981111180926

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited