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Article
Publication date: 26 January 2021

Zelinna Pablo, Kerry London, Peter S.P. Wong and Malik Khalfan

Current understandings of innovation in construction portray it as linear, deterministic phenomena centered around novel objects and technologies deployed in…

Abstract

Purpose

Current understandings of innovation in construction portray it as linear, deterministic phenomena centered around novel objects and technologies deployed in sequentially-organized supply chains. This study aims to develop an enriched understanding of construction innovation as non-linear, socio-material and dynamic phenomena in complex networks by formulating a novel conceptual apparatus of complex adaptive supply networks (CASNs) expanded through actor-network theory (ANT) concepts.

Design/methodology/approach

This combined CASN/ANT apparatus is mobilized in the context of a qualitative case study involving a housing construction supply network in Australia making use of offsite manufacturing (OSM) techniques.

Findings

The study shows that innovative technologies such as novel OSM products can play an important though not necessarily deterministic role in the evolution of CASNs. The study also explicates the process by which the enrollment of non-human agents and the resulting CASN evolution are linked: innovative technologies shape human and non-human interactions in ways that redefine task delegation, role definition and schemas that are fundamental to the shape of CASNs.

Originality/value

Findings provide a compelling empirical basis for arguing that CASNs must be conceptualized as heterogeneous systems and that innovation in construction must be understood as non-linear, socio-material and dynamic, rather than linear and driven by technological determinism. The study also interrogates limiting notions of supply chains and supports the notion of alternative inter-organizational forms to understand construction project work.

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Article
Publication date: 24 April 2020

Zelinna Pablo and Kerry Anne London

The study analyses collaborative practice in offsite manufacturing (OSM) housing supply chains, focusing specifically on supply chains driven by small and medium…

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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.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 27 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

Keywords

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