Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The construction industry as a loosely coupled system: implications for productivity and innovation


Author Info

  • Anna Dubois
  • Lars-Erik Gadde
Registered author(s):


    Previous research suggests that the construction industry is characterized by (1) particular complexity factors owing to industry specific uncertainties and interdependences, and (2) inefficiency of operations. The aim of this study was to analyse the operations and behaviour of firms as a means of dealing with complexity. The observations made indicate that the industry as a whole is featured as a loosely coupled system. Taking this as a starting point, the couplings among activities, resources and actors were analysed in different dimensions. The pattern of couplings builds on two interdependent layers: tight couplings in individual projects and loose couplings based on collective adaptations in the permanent network. It is concluded that the pattern of couplings seems to favour short term productivity while hampering innovation and learning.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Construction Management and Economics.

    Volume (Year): 20 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 7 ()
    Pages: 621-631

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:20:y:2002:i:7:p:621-631

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Order Information:

    Related research

    Keywords: Construction; Loosely Coupled System; Productivity; Innovation;


    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Peter Harrison, 2007. "Can Measurement Error Explain the Weakness of Productivity Growth in the Canadian Construction Industry?," CSLS Research Reports 2007-01, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    2. Graeme Larsen & Tabarak Ballal, 2005. "The diffusion of innovations within a UKCI context: an explanatory framework," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 81-91.
    3. Beerepoot, Milou & Beerepoot, Niels, 2007. "Government regulation as an impetus for innovation: Evidence from energy performance regulation in the Dutch residential building sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 4812-4825, October.
    4. Antonelli,Cristiano & Gehringer,Agnieszka, 2012. "Knowledge externalities and demand pull: The European evidence," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201214, University of Turin.
    5. Brahm, Francisco & Tarziján, Jorge, 2012. "The impact of complexity and managerial diseconomies on hierarchical governance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 586-599.
    6. Holmen, Elsebeth & Pedersen, Ann-Charlott & Torvatn, Tim, 2005. "Building relationships for technological innovation," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(9), pages 1240-1250, September.
    7. Andrew Chang & Chih-Chiang Tien, 2006. "Quantifying uncertainty and equivocality in engineering projects," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(2), pages 171-184.
    8. Eriksson, Per-Erik & Pesämaa, Ossi, 2007. "Modelling procurement effects on cooperation," MPRA Paper 8730, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Butzin, Anna & Rehfeld, Dieter, 2008. "Innovationsbiographien in der Bauwirtschaft," Forschung Aktuell 10/2008, Institut Arbeit und Technik (IAT), Westfälische Hochschule, University of Applied Sciences.
    10. Shahin Mokhlesian, 2014. "How Do Contractors Select Suppliers for Greener Construction Projects? The Case of Three Swedish Companies," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(7), pages 4133-4151, June.


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:conmgt:v:20:y:2002:i:7:p:621-631. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.