Innovate or Perish? Exploring some of the Myths of Construction Innovation

Martin Loosemore


Abstract

The construction innovation literature suggests that managers face a stark choice. They can innovate or perish in the face of growing global competition and an increasingly uncertain and dynamic world. Innovation is presented as a key area of reform needed to raise business performance, yet at the same time it is argued that Australia is falling behind in the global innovation stakes. Evidence suggests that the Australian Construction sector is a poor innovation performer when compared to all-industry averages and contributes relatively little to the national innovation effort. Drawing on international innovation research, this paper argues that these views are overly simplistic and explores some of the myths that surround the process in the construction industry. Through interviews with some of Australia’s leading innovators and policy-makers it suggests that many of the factors that are said to drive innovation are not as straight forward as they may seem. There are important qualifications to consider and it would seem that construction innovation is a highly interactive and amorphous process, involving many people with multiple interests dealing with day-to-day challenges.

Keywords: Innovation, opportunism, strategy, risk.

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