Good practice transfer within small construction specialist trade contractors
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Official URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2010-07...
Government and institutionally-driven ‘good practice transfer’ initiatives are consistently presented as a means to enhance construction firm and industry performance. Two implicit tenets of these initiatives appear to be: knowledge embedded in good practice will transfer automatically; and, the potential of implementing good practice will be capitalised regardless of the context where it is to be used. The validity of these tenets is increasingly being questioned and, concurrently, more nuanced knowledge production understandings are being developed which recognise and incorporate context-specificity. This research contributes to this growing, more critical agenda by examining the actual benefits accrued from good practice transfer from the perspective of a small specialist trade contracting firm. A concept model for successful good practice transfer is developed from a single longitudinal case study within a small heating and plumbing firm. The concept model consists of five key variables: environment, strategy, people, technology, and organisation of work. The key findings challenge the implicit assumptions prevailing in the existing literature and support a contingency approach that argues successful good practice transfer is not just adopting and mechanistically inserting into the firm, but requires addressing ‘behavioural’ aspects. For successful good practice transfer, small specialist trade contracting firms need to develop and operationalise organisation slack, mechanisms for scanning external stimuli and absorbing knowledge. They also need to formulate and communicate client-driven external strategies; to motive and educate people at all levels; to possess internal or accessible complementary skills and knowledge; to have ‘soft focus’ immediate/mid-term benefits at a project level; and, to embed good practice in current work practices.