Knowledge Integrations, Replication and the Birth of Capabilities

Dongtan - East Village and East Lake

Duration: 2007-2009

Researchers: Dr Andrew Davies, Dr Lars Frederiksen

The future of sustainable urban growth depends on radically new designs and business models to create and deliver zero-carbon cities. This stream of research focuses on relatively new phenomenon of built environment – ecocities. The particular research interests of the EBR cluster include organisational knowledge integration and replication, capability emergence by balancing the improvisation – routinization processes and how delivery of mega-project demands institutional entrepreneurship and strategy. One important empirical setting for these topics is Dongtan, a new zero-carbon ecocity designed by Arup and situated on the Chongming Island only an hour away from central Shanghai.

The EPSRC funded Ecocit network encourages research inspired by the design and development of Dongtan, and other ecocities in China. This international forum helps UK, Chinese and other international researchers undertake studies of the development and transformation of the cities in terms of their environmental, technological and economical sustainability. [ecocit website]

“It is a story about the management of total, serial innovation involving a huge range of skills, people from many different cultures and with teams located in many countries, but all with a common creative purpose” (Peter Head, 2007, Dongtan Project Director).

A pioneering research project on the case study of Dongtan investigates how the engineering consultancy firm Arup developed a novel capability called ‘integrated urbanism’ to create the unique Dongtan masterplan. The project studies how diverse knowledge and expertise was brought together and recombined to create the ecocity design. A design which is now being replicated on other ecocity projects throughout the world. This research is part of the cross-college BP Urban Energy Systems project.