Innovation in construction firms of different sizes: Drivers and strategies

Xianhai Meng*, Andrew Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
3297 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – The importance of innovation has been increasingly highlighted in construction as a large and complex industry sector that is more challenging than ever before. To bridge the knowledge gap about how firm size affects innovation in construction, this research explores firm-level innovation through an empirical investigation and compares innovation in construction firms of different sizes in terms of drivers and strategies.
Design/methodology/approach – This research adopts a combination of a literature review, a group of qualitative interviews and a quantitative questionnaire survey. In this research, the questionnaire survey is the main instrument to collect empirical data. Main contractors, subcontractors and specialist contractors as well as suppliers of labor, material and equipment (LME) are used in this research to represent construction firms of different sizes. On the other hand, client organizations, design firms and management consultants are not included in this research.
Findings – This research provides clear evidence for the embrace of innovation in construction. Many forces can drive construction firms to innovate and many strategies can be applied to construction innovation. Innovation drivers can be either internal or external. On the other hand, innovation strategies fall into four categories: technology, resource, marketing and management. For innovation drivers and strategies, both commonalities and differences can be found among construction firms of different sizes.
Originality/value – The finding of commonalities describes the general trend of innovation development in construction. It also encourages all construction firms to innovate regardless of firm size. On the other hand, the finding of differences enables construction firms of different sizes to realize what forces better drive their innovation and what strategies are more appropriate for their innovation. A thorough understanding of innovation drivers and strategies offers an important framework for construction organizations and practitioners to pursue best practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1210-1225
Number of pages16
JournalEngineering Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2018


  • Innovation
  • Driver
  • Strategy
  • Construction firm
  • Firm size


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