Putting academic ideas into practice: technological progress and the absorptive capacity of construction organizations
AbstractThis paper focuses on how knowledge is produced by academics and on mechanisms for and constraints upon absorbing new ideas within the construction sector. It draws upon two bodies of work: Cohen and Levinthal's concept of 'absorptive capacity' and Gibbons and coworkers' 'new production of knowledge'. Much of Steven Groak's work was concerned with technology transfer and how ideas generated during research could be put into practice. He developed the concept of 'practitioner-researcher' to illustrate the ways in which many built environment professionals approach their work. The paper suggests that a few construction firms have the capabilities to absorb and act directly upon the results of academic research in the UK. These firms are likely to employ a critical mass of professionally qualified practitioners and they usually compete for work in technically demanding and often specialist areas. They probably have a track record of collaboration with university researchers, and are likely to have their own internal technical support infrastructure which assists in learning between projects. However, the majority of construction organizations learn of new ideas through a range of different published media and by participating in complex sets of interactions in a wide range of networks. The role of professional institutions is important, acting as repositories of knowledge. But these institutions may also constrain development when they adhere to outmoded notions of narrowly defined discipline-based activities. Governments can play a part in putting ideas into practice as catalysts in bringing academic research and industrial practitioner communities together through sponsorship of collaborative research projects. The paper concludes that construction organizations could improve their absorptive capacity by developing better feedback and life-long learning mechanisms, education and training.
Knowledge Production Absorption Capacity Innovation Construction Research Academic Research Technology Transfer Professionalization Construction Organizations,