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Understanding the diffusion and application of new management ideas in construction

MIKE BRESNEN (Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL)
NICK MARSHALL (Complex Product Systems Innovation Centre (CoPS), Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM), University of Brighton, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9PH, UK)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 1 May 2001


Recent interest in the UK construction sector in innovative management practices such as partnering, continuous improvement and benchmarking have raised long‐standing questions about the transferability of new management ideas from other industrial sectors into construction. Informed in part by the author's own research into partnering in the UK, this paper sets out to explore the problems of transferring and applying new management ideas to the construction industry. However, rather than simply restricting the discussion to the perennial (and perhaps unanswerable) question of whether or not the construction industry actually is different, this paper goes much further by examining the nature of knowledge diffusion and application processes. Three main themes are highlighted and their implications assessed. First, the many inherent problems and limitations associated with relying on models of ‘best practice’ drawn from other industrial sectors. Second, the highly socialized and politicized nature of supposedly rational processes of knowledge diffusion and implementation. Third, the impact that institutional factors have on the diffusion and application of knowledge via the creation of particular industry agendas and frames of reference.



BRESNEN, M. and MARSHALL, N. (2001), "Understanding the diffusion and application of new management ideas in construction", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 8 No. 5/6, pp. 335-345.




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