Innovation networks in the construction arena : the strategic management of mixed enterprises
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The building and construction sector is one of the five largest contributors to the Australian economy and is a key performance component in the economy of many other jurisdictions. However, the ongoing viability of this sector is increasingly reliant on its ability to foster and transfer innovated products and practices. Interorganisational networks, which bring together key industry stakeholders and facilitate the flows of information, resources and trust necessary to secure innovation, have emerged as a key growth strategy within this and other arenas. The blending of organisations, resources and purposes creates new, hybrid institutional forms that draw on a mix of contract, structure and interpersonal relationship as integration processes. This paper argues that hybrid networked arrangements, because they incorporate relational elements, require management strategies and techniques that not always synonymous with conventional management approaches, including those used within the building and construction sector. It traces the emergence of the Construction Innovation Project in Australia as a hybrid institutional arrangement moulding public, private and academic stakeholders of the building and construction industry into a coherent collective force aimed at fostering innovation and its application within all levels of the industry. Specifically, the paper examines the Construction Innovation Project to ascertain the impact of relational governance and its management to harness and leverage the skills, resources and capacities of members to secure innovative outcomes. Finally, the paper offers some prospects to guide the ongoing work of this body and any other charged with a similar integrative responsibility.
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