University of Twente Student Theses


Network evolvement in innovation projects: the case of the construction industry: the influence of network evolvement on the performance of systemic product innovation in the construction industry

Wolbers, M.C. (2012) Network evolvement in innovation projects: the case of the construction industry: the influence of network evolvement on the performance of systemic product innovation in the construction industry.

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Abstract:Introduction Successful innovations can offer firms various competitive advantages: lowering of the production costs, improving of the quality of products, entering of new markets or increasing the share in existing markets. These competitive advantages might lead to an improved position of the firm compared to its competitors and also Ballast Nedam is aiming to improve its position. However, before an innovation becomes successful a process of development and implementation activities precedes. In this process of development and implementation various organizations are involved and the relations between these organizations change during the innovation process and ultimately the network structure of these relations changes. It is likely that the evolvements in the relations and structure influence the results of the innovation process and the innovation performance. This research aims to understand the evolvement of the networks in these innovation processes and the effect of the network evolvement on the innovation performance. Research design Ballast Nedam wishes to improve its innovation management by creating a better understanding of the network dynamics in its innovation projects and the effect of the network dynamics on the innovation performance. The aim of this thesis is to obtain insight in the evolvement of networks in innovation projects of Ballast Nedam and the effect of the network evolvement on the innovation performance. This leads to the following research question: How does the evolvement of an innovation network affect the performance of a systemic product innovation of Ballast Nedam? Methodology This thesis required a theoretical and a practical research: a theoretical research is conducted to determine the variables of an evolving innovation network and the variables to determine the innovation performance of a systemic product innovation. The practical research is conducted in the form of a multiple case study. Three innovation projects of Ballast Nedam are selected as cases for this research. For each case first the data is collected and analyzed. Second, the within case analyses are compared to each other in a cross case analysis to determine similarities and differences between the three cases. Finally, the results of the cross case analysis leads to conclusions and recommendations. Theory The theoretical research is conducted to determine the performance of a product innovation and the variables of an evolving innovation network. The definition of an innovation that is used in this research is as follows: “an innovation is an idea, practice or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption”. The type of innovation that is studied in this research is a systemic product innovation, which means that there is a complete configuration of components and interfaces of the product. The performance of the innovation and the innovation project is measured on four dimensions: technical performance, project performance, market performance and rate of satisfaction. Master Thesis Business Administration Page ii Michiel Wolbers BSc. In the innovation process of a systemic product innovation four phases can be distinguished: (1) idea generation and selection, (2) pilot project, (3) development and testing and (4) implementation and diffusion. However, in the construction industry a true pilot project is not distinguished, because an innovation is mostly tested and implemented at the same time. The reason for the absence of a true pilot project is because the construction industry described as a complex products and systems industry, which is an industry in which products are developed that have an architectural structure and are produced in small batches. In the open innovation paradigm external knowledge is used to developed innovations and to use external paths to expand the markets. The access to external knowledge and paths can be required through strategic alliances. There is a wide range of motives to form a strategic alliance. The motives are related to risk sharing, economies of scale, knowledge and skills transfer, shaping of the competition, access to new markets and consolidating of the market position. The strategic alliance can differ on the structure of the strategic alliance and the type of alliance partner, which depends on the relation between the organizations. The structure and the selection of the type of alliance partner determine partly the success of the strategic alliance and ultimately the success of the innovation. The network in an innovation project is the set of strategic alliances and alliance partners. An innovation network can be characterized by the actors in the network, the ties between the actors and the structure of the direct and indirect ties. Both the network structure and the relations in the network affect the performance of an innovation project and an innovation. Also the dynamics of the network structure and relations affect the innovation performance. The dynamics are the changes in the structure and the relations. However, each change is embedded in the relations and the network structure and the other way around. The embeddedness of networks consists of several dimensions. In this study a combination of three dimensions are studied: the structural, relational and cognitive embeddedness. The structural embeddedness refers to the configuration of the structure and the ties. To measure the structural embeddedness the measurements frequency of interaction and closeness of the relationship are used. The relational embeddedness, which describes the content of the relation between actors, is measured by making use of the items reliability and promise keeping. The cognitive embeddedness describes the similarity of interpretations among the actors and is measured by using the items shared vision and enthusiasm. Data collection and analysis A multiple case study is chosen as a research strategy to collect and analyze the data in this research. In this multiple case study three innovation projects are selected as cases: Duurzaam Speelbad, ModuPark® and iQwoning®. The first two projects are market-pull innovation projects, while the latter is a technology-push innovation project. The data in this research is collected through document study, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Questionnaires are used to collect the data about the network evolvement and the innovation performance, while the document study and the semi-structured interviews are used to collect supporting data about the network evolvement and the innovation project. Summary Michiel Wolbers BSc. Page iii The collected data is analyzed in a two-step analysis. Firstly, the data about the network evolvement and the innovation performance is analyzed in a within case analysis, which concerns the separately analysis of the innovation projects. Secondly, a cross case analysis is conducted to compare the three cases on the network evolvement and the innovation performance. Also the effect of the network evolvement on the innovation performance is analyzed in the cross case analysis. Conclusion All three innovation projects are described as successful innovation projects, although the projects score differently on the four dimensions of innovation performance. Based on the definition of ‘innovation’ in this research, the measurement market performance is chosen to compare the innovation projects on their success. This measurement measures the success of the implementation and the diffusion of the innovation. Based on this performance measurement the innovation project iQwoning® is determined as the most successful innovation of the three, followed by the innovation project ModuPark®. The innovation project Duurzaam Speelbad is the last in row; however, this innovation is in the middle of its diffusion and adoption process. The three dimensions of embeddedness that are determined in the theory are used to measure the evolvement of the network in the three innovation projects. The level of network embeddedness is measured for each of the four phases that were identified in the theoretical framework. The evolvements of the innovation projects are compared on the level of embeddedness and the patterns of evolvement. All three innovation projects have high scores for all six network characteristics during the entire process, although there are differences in the evolvement. The projects iQwoning® and ModuPark® have similar evolvements for several of their network characteristics in contrast with the network evolvements in the innovation project Duurzaam Speelbad. The project iQwoning® has in general higher scores than the project ModuPark®, except for the scores in the first phase. Remarkable for all three innovation projects is the extremely high score on enthusiasm during the entire project. The effect of the network evolvement on the innovation performance is descriptive determined. There are two reasons that this effect is not statistically determined. The first reason is that the evolvement is described as a pattern and the second reason is the small number of cases. Nevertheless, similarities are found in the network evolvements of the two innovation projects iQwoning® and ModuPark®. The two innovation projects show similar patterns of evolvement of the items close relationship, reliability and enthusiasm, although the levels of these items might differ during the process. These three items describe the involvement of the parties and this involvement, which evolves during the process, affects the innovation performance. Recommendations This research offers various directions of future research, because in the field of network dynamics there is a lack of knowledge about the causes and effects of network dynamics. The first type of future research is about the execution of this type of research. In this research a post-hoc analysis is used, but in future research the network evolvement and the innovation performance should be measured while the project is executed. Further, at the start of an innovation project it is not clear whether the project will be a success and therefore, future research might contain successful and unsuccessful innovation projects, which increase the insight of success factors regarding the network dynamics. Also other dimensions of embeddedness could be studied. The second type of future Master Thesis Business Administration Page iv Michiel Wolbers BSc. research is about the environment of networks. In this research the networks of systemic product innovation projects are studied, but in future research network in other types of projects or industries could be studied to increase the insight in network dynamics. Practical recommendations are mainly about creating the right conditions for the network evolvement. Each innovation projects should start with a meeting or a workshop to make people enthusiastic about the innovation project. The studied innovation projects showed that an extremely high level of enthusiasm might affect the innovation performance in a positive manner. Further, to manage and to control the network evolvement a process manager should be assign to guide the network during the innovation projects. In case it is not possible or desirable to invest in new relationships, it is recommended to cooperate in innovation projects with organizations that are well-known to the firm. A last practical recommendation is to measure the performance of the innovation and the innovation project during the executing of the project and to use these results for other future innovation projects.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Ballast Nedam N.V.
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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