University research efforts have not been effective in developing lasting impacts on operations management in construction because of inadequate coordination between academia and industry. This study aims to describe the development of an industry–university (IU) relationship which has enabled the conduct of practically and scientifically relevant research.
Design science research was carried out between 2016 and 2019 to build a consortium between a university and 17 design, construction, technology and logistics companies for enabling process innovations in construction. The consortium conducted industry-funded research on various topics, such as takt production, lean design management, prefabrication, measurement of waste and business models supported by digitalisation. The academic and practical impacts of the consortium’s research projects were investigated through a survey and in-depth company interviews.
The paper presents a conceptual model for creating an IU relationship to support scientifically and practically relevant research. The model includes network architects who mobilised consortium development and a joint governance body that developed a shared long-term vision and selected research topics based on this vision. The results show that using the model’s approach, the consortium selected research topics that have led to both academic publications and process innovations in construction.
Using empirical data, this study describes how to create a win-win IU innovation relationship that enables the implementation of process innovations into the construction sector and, at the same time, the conduct of scientific research in construction management.