Collaboration in Discontinuous Innovation in the Construction Industry

Lauri Pulkka

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The construction industry holds great societal, environmental and economic importance. Innovation is central to the industry's attempts to simultaneously respond to challenges of increasing urbanization, climate change mitigation and stalling productivity. Construction is inter-organisational by nature, and collaboration is required to successfully introduce and implement new ideas. This is particularly true for more radical change, discontinuous innovation, which is the focus of the dissertation. The main aim of the research is to develop a better understanding of the inter-organisational dynamics of discontinuous innovation in the construction industry. How should organisations collaborate to spur innovation? The research combines quantitative and qualitative methods; a mixed methods design is employed. The quantitative component consists of a study using survey data. The analysis of the survey is explorative in nature. All inferences are based on descriptive statistics. The qualitative component consist of studies that follow a single, comparative and multiple case study design. The data consists of interviews, documents and participant observation. Discontinuous innovation requires closer and more active collaboration. Three arguments concerning the nature of collaboration are made. First, successful discontinuous innovation depends on gaining momentum for the innovation process. Adopting an innovation-centric rather than firm centric approach to innovation management is suggested. Second, gaining momentum is also facilitated when innovation is aligned with regulation and the dominant technological trajectory. Third, networks that operate according to the ecosystem principles are more conducive to innovation, possibly because such networks are able to prioritise collective value creation over value appropriation. The research contributes to the understanding of change in an industry known for its conservativeness and uninnovativeness. It shows that discontinuous innovation does not require re-inventing the wheel but a combination of practices that are already being used in the construction industry. The findings have implications for firms wanting to pursue discontinuous innovation and for construction innovation research, but also for regulators, who do not always understand their major impact on the value creation of construction networks, and for funding agencies, who should consider reallocating some of their funding from individual organisations to networks pursuing innovation.
Translated title of the contributionYhteistyö rakennusalan innovaatiotoiminnassa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Junnila, Seppo, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7034-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7033-9
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • innovation
  • collaboration
  • construction industry
  • ecosystem


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