Transport Innovation Challenge Brokering Knowledge Within and Beyond a Megaproject

Train Track

We’re studying collaboration across internal mega-project boundaries

Please note, now the ISC project is complete, the latest updates on this project can be found on its specific project page on the Department for Innovation & Entrepreneurship website.

Theme: Systems, Services and Design

Dates: 2011-2013 (continuing beyond ISC)

Research Team: Professor David Gann, Andy Davies, Samuel MacAulay

Read more about our contribution to the Crossrail Innovation Strategy

Organisations routinely collaborate across internal and external boundaries to capture and integrate the knowledge required for innovation. As with most organisations, the operational success and learning legacy of transport megaprojects depend on successfully meeting this innovation challenge. Building on the findings of our earlier research into innovation and systems integration (e.g. Terminal 5, London Olympics 2012), we will use interviews and observational data collected from a mega-project in the transportation industry to help refine our understanding of how organisational mechanisms influence individual actions.This research will:

  • Audit organisational processes that drive collaboration across internal megaproject boundaries and into the future.
  • Identify how such mechanisms actually influence the day-to-day behaviour of individuals trying to capture and integrate knowledge associated with specific innovations.
  • Compare our findings with prior research conducted across a number of industries to generate a best practice framework that can be used by our firm and other organisations seeking to facilitate successful collaborate across megaproject boundaries

At a more general level, this project is designed to contribute to theory on the knowledge integration process within organisations. The interdependence between organisational mechanisms and individual actions underpinning this process are underspecified in existing theory. Our study draws on theory and findings from social network research into brokerage to refine existing theoretical accounts of the knowledge integration process within the organisational science literature.

Using interviews with and observations of multiple subprojects within our focal firm, we will:

  • Produce a report identifying the drivers underlying successful innovation integration within the firm
  • Develop a best practice framework for our firm and other organisations seeking to facilitate successful collaboration across megaproject boundaries
  • Contribute to organisational theory by highlighting how existing explanations of brokerage in social networks helps explain the innovation integration process at the individual level within temporary organisations.
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