Historical British Antecedents of Innovative Construction Project Organisation and Social Structures

Holt, Gary David (2016) Historical British Antecedents of Innovative Construction Project Organisation and Social Structures. Construction Innovation, 16 (1). pp. 46-66. ISSN 1471-4175

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/CI-02-2015-0010


Purpose: To present examples of historical British antecedents of innovative construction procurement, project organisation and social structures, through an historical case study. To highlight how contemporary innovative ‘newness’ can sometimes be preceded by historical antecedents. Methodology: Informal analysis of extant literature and historical archives, to synthesise those antecedents presented; and reflect on these in light of contemporary construction practice and innovation. Findings: The case study project, capturing the period c.1894-1904, demonstrates numerous historical but significant innovations relating to project organisation and social structures. The extent of these may result from more lax regulation and workplace controls of the time. The case also epitomises how a publicly accountable authority, can realise a high quality constructed product in good time, using direct labour and without recourse to competitive procurement. Research implications: The blending of historical construction research with contemporary construction innovation (CI) thinking may open new academic opportunities in both fields. Practical implications: The findings suggest that a less regulatory-constrained environment appears conducive to incremental and process-oriented CI activity. Originality: There is a dearth of construction history research; its application to CI is unique. Classification: Case study.
Keywords: Construction innovation, historical antecedents, social structure, organisation, project control, workers

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