Knowledge interaction between manufacturers and research organisations for building product innovations: an exploratory case study
|Tila||Julkaistu - 14 marraskuuta 2014|
This thesis adds to research on construction innovation through exploring and describing knowledge interaction between product manufacturers and research organizations. A few publications deals with manufacturers’ innovation activities on their own terms, although products are broadly recognised to have major impacts on the performance of the entire built environment.
The research was conducted in a multilevel theoretical framework integrating the perspectives of systems of innovation, knowledge processes in manufacturing industries and knowledge interaction between companies and public research organizations. Ten product innovations were selected for a multiple case study. Cross-case synthesis was applied as the analysis technique of qualitative research data. The main themes in exploring and describing the knowledge interaction were found as to be a) development and use of research-based knowledge in product innovations, b) accumulation and diffusion of research-based knowledge and b) context and channels of knowledge interaction.
The principal motivation for the knowledge interaction was found to be the need to know how a novel product would perform in its intended use in buildings, and how it should be designed and manufactured to meet the overall requirements. The regulations to design and use novel products were, however, often developed in parallel or after a technical invention. The objectives of joint innovation activities also reflected also the market expectations and governmental strategies. The thesis thus emphasized the dynamics of relationships between institutions and various actors within a system of construction innovation.
A system of construction innovation is, however, not sufficient to uncover all the aspects of the knowledge interaction and even less the context of manufacturers’ innovation activities. This is due to the division of the real estate and construction sector into competing value chains that exist in accord with basic framing materials. Manufacturers have ties to basic industries that are also important sources of product innovations. The industrial associations reflect this situation, as well as specialization of research and education. As a conclusion, approaches to the technology innovation systems were proposed for further research.
The research identified similarities between the innovation processes of building product manufacturers and those of other manufacturing sectors. It is noteworthy however, that innovation activities were organised in several cases according to principles of concurrent engineering already decades ago. It was also observed that relationships between research and practice are of mutual benefit.