Stimulating innovation by making project-related information available on internet
Abstract: Nonaka and Takeuchi state in their book 'The knowledge-creating company' that product development is the very process in an organisation to generate new knowledge. This makes product development an important motor for acquiring new knowledge in a line of business like the building industry.
Product innovations in our industry are due to initiatives by a range of parties. These parties start from an assumption of what should be technically feasible when initiating innovation. Of these parties, manufacturers are generally regarded as the ultimate product developers. Innovation in the form of new products contributes much to safeguard the continuity of the firm. Since their interest is survival and they focus on certain production techniques, most manufacturers are well aware of technical developments within their field. Manufacturers have a great interest in making the new product known to the world. They therefore diffuse selected information of their products to the industry.
Manufacturers are, however, not the only actors initiating development of building products, architects play an important role as well: they can initiate project-related product development. Since architects operate as generalists within the industry, combining different products and techniques to realise their buildings, they can not be completely informed on the latest technological developments. In order to realise products, which are tailor made to the project, they therefore need the expertise of others; manufacturers, contractors and/or different advisors. It is here where the availability of information on expertise and interest becomes important to the architects. On the other hand, nobody really has a specific interest in promoting project-related products. This means that this type of information is only passed along accidentally and not intentionally. As a result, knowledge related to these specially developed products diffuses very slow compared to knowledge related to standard products, or in the worst case the information disappears altogether.
Dissemination of information or technology transfer is an important condition for achieving innovation, as shown by Rogers in his book 'Diffusion of innovations'. To stimulate project-related innovation that is initiated by architects, the information flow within the industry needs to be smoothened. Architects do not want to be disturbed with all this technical and product information when they do not need it. However, a database containing this information that would be accessible via the Internet when it is needed by the architects would be the most optimal solution.
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by Icelandic Building Research Institute. The assistance of the editor, Mr. Gudni Gudnason, is gratefully appreciated