The construction business network is generally seen as conservative and non-innovative, for which a number of reasons have been identified. One of which relates to the special inter-organisational setting that exists within the industry. The starting point of our study was to investigate whether there is any truth in this perceived lack of innovation. One reason for the industry’s bad reputation could be that the way innovation generally is defined and measured is unsuitable for the construction business. Therefore, renewal was used as the central concept of change in our investigation. The second issue concerns factors that either assist or impede renewal, and the ambition was to identify those factors driving, as well as those hindering renewal.
In order to identify the degree of renewal, as well as the factors affecting it, we conducted a survey of Swedish construction companies. The resulting picture shows a clear connection between the inter-organisational interfaces within the industry and how renewal takes place. The total renewal activity is on a considerable level with more than 60% having made changes visible from the customer’s point of view. The most active interface is also in relation to customers, while the relationship to suppliers generally is more distant. Finally, the project focus which characterises the industry affects what type of renewal that takes place, and exposes the lack of knowledge transfer between individual projects and actors as an important hinder to renewal in the construction network.