Informal communication networks and the diffusion of innovations in UK construction projects: A research design
Larsen, G. (2003) Informal communication networks and the diffusion of innovations in UK construction projects: A research design. In: Anumba, C. J. (ed.) Innovative Developments in Architecture, Engineering and Contruction. Millpress Science Publishers, Rotterdam, pp. 503-514. ISBN 9059660080
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The UK industry has been criticised for being slow to adopt construction process innovations. Research shows that the idiosyncrasies of participants, their roles in the system and the contextual differences between sections of the industry make this a highly complex problem. There is considerable evidence that informal social networks play a key role in diffusion of innovations. The aim is to identify informal communication networks of project participants and the role these play in the diffusion of construction innovations. The characteristics of this network will be analysed in order to understand how they can be used to accelerate innovation diffusion within and between projects. Social Network Analysis is used to determine informal communication routes. Control and experiment case study projects are used within two different organizations. This allows informal communication routes concerning innovations to be mapped, whilst testing if the informal routes can facilitate diffusion. Analysis will focus upon understanding the combination of informal strong and weak ties, and how these impede or facilitate the diffusion of the innovation. Initial work suggests the presence of an informal communication network. Actors within this informal network, and the organization's management are unaware of its' existence and their informal roles within it. Thus, the network remains an untapped medium regarding innovation diffusion. It is proposed that successful innovation diffusion is dependent upon understanding informal strong and weak ties, at project, organization and industry level.