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Stable relationality and dynamic innovation: two models of collaboration in SME-driven offsite manufacturing supply chains in housing construction

Zelinna Pablo (School of Built Environment, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South Campus , Rydalmere, Australia)
Kerry Anne London (School of Built Environment, Western Sydney University, Parramatta South Campus , Rydalmere, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 24 April 2020

Issue publication date: 22 July 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The study analyses collaborative practice in offsite manufacturing (OSM) housing supply chains, focusing specifically on supply chains driven by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The study’s analysis builds on previous work where we argued that collaboration in OSM housing construction comprises nine elements. In this study, the authors demonstrate empirically that SMEs enact these collaborative practice elements in distinct ways, foregrounding key elements over others. One core model and two sub-models of collaboration emerge from our two case studies.

Design/methodology/approach

The study analyses two SME-driven supply chains using qualitative case study techniques. Data were gathered through 12 semi-structured interviews conducted in two housing construction supply chains: one in South Australia, Australia, and another in Tasmania, Australia.

Findings

A comparative case study of SMEs shows that collaboration in OSM supply chains has a number of common elements, including a champion for innovation, investment in long-term relationships, resourceful use of limited assets and physical co-location. However, SMEs can also enact these elements through a range of diverging collaborative strategies that can be distilled into different models: stable relationality and dynamic innovation.

Originality/value

Findings provide a compelling empirical basis for arguing that SMEs can successfully lead OSM supply chains if key collaborative practice elements are strategically mobilised in ways that are suited to their strengths and limitations. The study therefore interrogates the widely held and often limiting assumption that OSM can only be driven by large organisations with access to capital assets, capacity to invest and undisputed bargaining power.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Australian Research Council [DP 180101178].

Citation

Pablo, Z. and London, K.A. (2020), "Stable relationality and dynamic innovation: two models of collaboration in SME-driven offsite manufacturing supply chains in housing construction", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 1553-1577. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-07-2019-0346

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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