Innovation or business survival?: A preliminary, qualitative study of UK construction plant supply chains

Holt, Gary David and Edwards, David J. (2012) Innovation or business survival?: A preliminary, qualitative study of UK construction plant supply chains. Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management, 12 (1). pp. 99-122. ISSN 1471-4175

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Purpose – The criticality of mechanical plant to construction activity is well accepted within the literature; however, the supply chain mechanisms by which that demand is satisfied, are much less documented or understood. The purpose of this paper is to address this theoretical gap by: describing Construction Plant Supply Chain (CPSC) evolvement; identifying with present sector difficulties; discussing solutions to those difficulties; and considering the role of innovation within CPSC (historically and for the future.

Design/methodology/approach – A mixed-method research, i.e. qualitative and preliminary, including literature review, case study inquiry of an established multi-purpose CPSC player, and open question survey of a limited sample of CPSC stakeholders has been employed in this study. Inductive data analysis via textual interrogation is undertaken.

Findings – In reaction to market forces and business challenges, CPSC evolution demonstrated innovative change from former contractor-held plant fleets to predominantly private sector “external” supply chains. Of late, CPSC challenges have intensified, given its intrinsic relationship to a depressed UK (and global) economy, dependency on capital investment, and the need for sustained demand. Suggestions to encounter present challenges have been made and a difficult medium-term future signified.

Research limitations/implications – As a preliminary study, generalisation of findings should be viewed in a limited context; however, given the dearth of research in this subject, the findings make novel contribution to the CPSC literature while signposting fertile avenues for future and more comprehensive research.

Originality/value – No previous research in this specific field has been identified.

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