Collaboration between housebuilding firms and suppliers for the implementation of innovation strategies: a strategy-as-practice approach

Establishing long-term relationships, collaborating and making decisions with suppliers has become a major requisite for firms’ competitiveness and for implementing innovation. In a relatively unbounded context, such as the construction industry, innovation takes place across a network of loosely coupled organisations. Thus, cooperation and efficient communication must transcend organisational boundaries in order for successful innovation to occur. This paper adopts a strategyas- practice (S-A-P) approach to understand how innovation “strategizing” takes place between firms and suppliers and how power relations influence its implementation. This is used to examine how social practices, such as strategic meetings and workshops, bring about the coproduction of innovations between firms. The paper sets out a novel theoretical approach comprising targeted ethnographic observations and in-depth interviews. These are used as a framework for identifying how innovation takes place by analysing how collaborative innovation between the firms and their suppliers is executed, and in particular how power is distributed between and across those actors. It is argued that this approach offers a novel theoretical contribution towards understanding of how innovation takes place across interorganisational boundaries and the collaborative mechanisms that might support it.