Business Innovation Dynamics in Infrastructure Projects

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Const & Proj Management

Abstract

This research seeks to address the long-standing issue of poor performance in infrastructure projects, also known as the productivity paradox. This paradox can be described as the inability of infrastructure projects to improve performance, despite the steadily increasing global demand for infrastructure and long track record of project delivery. To address this issue, this research aims to (1) develop understanding of how business innovation occurs in infrastructure projects and (2) provide strategic guidance on implementing business innovation strategies in this setting. Drawing upon business innovation and project management literatures, this Future Leaders fellowship focuses on processes of value creation and capture (VC&C) and seeks to understand how they determine the performance of infrastructure projects. Despite the growing need to advance the understanding of VC&C for participating actors and end-users of infrastructure projects, there is, however, very little empirical research in this area. Building on the applicant's international connectivity and track record of research into construction and project-based organisations, the fellowship will achieve two principal goals. First, it will initiate a long-term programme of empirical research into VC&C processes in infrastructure projects. Second, it will enable the applicant to achieve a distinctive and internationally recognised leadership profile in mainstream management, strategy and innovation studies. To this end, the applicant will conduct research to understand the organisational dynamics of VC&C in infrastructure projects, develop business innovation strategies for infrastructure projects working with internationally recognisable partners, and undergo experiential career development programme comprising the acquisition of new theoretical and methodological knowledge, development of research management and supervisory skills, and expansion of international connectivity. The research will initially develop five qualitative case studies with the following infrastructure providers as partner organisations: Heathrow Airport Ltd, Transport for London, UCL Estates, Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch Highways and Waterways Agency), and the European Investment Bank. The applicant will be hosted by the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management, working primarily with Prof Andrew Davies as mentor along with other leading researchers in business innovation and infrastructure. To validate the findings in an international context, expand his international network, and gain additional methodological skills, the applicant will spend three months visiting and working closely with researchers in the Global Projects Center at Stanford University. By the end of the fellowship, the applicant will have established a recognisable research programme into business innovation dynamics in infrastructure projects. The long-term programme of enquiry arising from this research is anticipated to constitute a step change generating research outputs that directly support business innovation and progressive policy-making facing the challenges and opportunities in infrastructure provision, both in the UK but also internationally. In such a way, this fellowship will promote disruptive thinking on business innovation and working practices and ways to implement improvements across private, public and civil society sectors participating in infrastructure provision.

Planned Impact

With the proposed research, the applicant will aim to achieve impact reaching out to organisations at three different levels: (1) partners, (2) industry and policy and (3) the general public.

1. Partners
Partners will be the immediate beneficiaries of this research. Partners will benefit through the ongoing collaboration with the researchers and their involvement in knowledge co-creation workshops. Early benefits to partners are expected already during the data collection. Using an engaged scholarship approach, the researchers will engage with interviewees in a reflective conversation allowing insights and solutions to problems to naturally emerge during the interactions. In such a way, project partners will be able to leverage learning and experience from other project partners. In addition to interviews, short-term impact will be achieved though knowledge co-creation workshops.

2. Industry and policy
Moreover, the applicant will work with researchers from UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) to identify optimal avenues to effectively inform policy making. One example of this is giving regular presentations to Infrastructure UK (IUK), a unit within the HM Treasury specifically dedicated to infrastructure investment issues. Similarly, the applicant will engage with representatives of the Infrastructure Client Group to disseminate findings and obtain high-level industry recommendations for this research. The applicant will also engage with professional bodies such as Association of Project Management, to broaden the exposure of this work across a variety of industry sectors.

3. General public
Besides the industry and policy impact, this project will have a strong outreach component towards the general public. This will occur through several mechanisms. First, the applicant will maintain a project website containing information about the project activities, project reports and other relevant material. The website will also contain a blog section where the applicant will regularly report about this work and general developments in the domain of infrastructure projects. The applicant will also use social media (Tweeter, LinkedIn, etc.) to create awareness about specific issues related to infrastructure projects internationally. The applicant will leverage the visibility of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, The School of Construction and Project Management, and International Centre for Infrastructure Futures as platforms to increase the exposure of this work. The applicant will also work with UCL Public Engagement Unit and UCL Media Relations Office to develop strategies that maximise the impact of wider community outreach. Similarly, the applicant will use the network of his professional connections abroad to promote the work in the US, the Netherlands, Austria, Croatia, and other countries. Finally, the applicant will pay particular attention to promoting the project activities to members of the younger generations, normally underrepresented in public outreach strategies. To this end, the applicant will approach a selected number of schools and organise presentations and workshop/playroom events in which children will learn about the importance of infrastructure and its value to the society and economy. The applicant will moreover ensure that the public outreach activities are inclusive in terms of international coverage as well as diversity of social groups addressed.
 
Description Working with the network of industry partners, this research established an important platform upon which future research on value in infrastructure and other categories of projects will be based. By focusing on value creation and capture mechanisms, we identified two main areas of findings that help us understand value processes in infrastructure projects from the perspective of clients, delivery coalition, key stakeholders, users and the general public.

The first key area of findings describes value enablers- organisational and behavioural features that help to unlock positive value dynamics in project delivery. Those are (1) trust amongst the key actors in the project organisation and with the key stakeholders, (2) the commitment and capability of the actors involved in the delivery to learn and innovate as part of their business-as-usual and (3) flexible organisational features that allow for future adaptation to change in external or internal project conditions.

The second key area of findings is about interactions between the main categories of actors involved in the delivery of infrastructure: (1) the delivery team which comprises actors in various forms and arrangements that deliver the project as the core project organisation and (2) the stakeholder network that includes all the key stakeholders, which are not part of the project organisation but are still a very important and necessary part of project delivery. Depending on the varying degrees and extensiveness of involvement across the both categories, we defined specific delivery models that can be used to explain different forms of the projects and as an important strategic toolkit to be used by infrastructure clients and delivery coalitions. Both value enablers and the delivery models feed into a comprehensive and evolving taxonomy of value mechanisms in infrastructure projects, as another key finding of this research that the PI and the research team will use as a solid basis for future work.

Research has also opened up important avenues for future methodological work in the domain of infrastructure projects- specifically in the application of rigorous qualitative and qualitative comparative approaches (QCA) and qualitative analysis of projects.

Moreover, significant research capability was developed though the PI working with an early-career researcher with complementary domains of expertise locating the research at the intersection of project studies, innovation studies and strategic management.

Finally, important and numerous partnerships were created as a result of this research - covering academic, industry and public sector domains.
Exploitation Route Outcomes of the funding will be taken forward by others in two main ways. The research has yielded several theoretical and empirical research contributions in the form of journal articles currently under review and a number of working papers and conference articles with presentations. It is anticipated these articles will be taken forward by future research. Equally importantly, this research has created significant industry impacts working closely with the research partners. Those impacts are already having traction in the form of innovation - translation of research findings into organisational practices. PI and the research team maintain close interactions with the research partners in order to facilitate this innovation impact. Findings are also incorporated into teaching of project and innovation modules at the MSc and MPA programmes in University College London, University of Sussex and internationally in Politechnico di Milano where the PI is regularly delivering teaching contributions. Finally, the research findings are taken forward through PI's participation in the Project X research initiative that is focused on improving the delivery of major government projects.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

 
Description 1 Policy impact has been visible through at least one citation in a policy document - the National Infrastructure Commission's report on Infrastructure Resilience in a Digital Age. 2 Industry impact on several levels: 2a) Arup research collaboration on the future of Project Management, published as an industry booklet. 2b) Contribution to the AMP7 strategic delivery framework for the @one Alliance and Anglian Water 2c) Citation of research in industry publication - Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 2d) Citation in professional body commissioned research - Association of Project Management research on Project Handovers. 2e) Research summary series publication by the Association for Project Management. 2f) In collaboration with the International Project Finance Association (IPFA), I chaired and moderated a Future Leaders Event on rebalancing the economy featuring high profile industry speakers and a sizeable audience of early career professionals in the world of project investment, finance and delivery where I introduced the research on the ESRC FL project. 2g) Membership in the Association for Project Management Research Advisory Group and evaluation of research proposals for funding. 3 General public The keynote lecture series from 2016/17/18 retains its popularity and the videos uploaded have a broad audience. 3b) Contribution for the Bartlett Annual Review 2017 publication on mega-projects and infrastructure. 4 Finally, findings from the work are being used for teaching purposes, to train future leaders of the global infrastructure industry. The PI has regular teaching engagements with MSc and MPA students of UCL, University of Sussex across areas of projects, innovation and policy.
Sector Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Energy,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Citation in APM report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL https://www.apm.org.uk/media/6153/handoverreport_2017_final.pdf
 
Description Citation in ICE paper
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/254986/jensu.15.00035.pdf?sequence=4
 
Description Infrastructure Investment and Finance MSc programme leadership
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description NIC report citation
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in systematic reviews
URL https://www.nic.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/CCCC17A21-Resilience-of-Digitally-Connected-Infrastructure...
 
Title Project Value Taxonomy 
Description The taxonomy contains interview and other rich data consolidated to represent different kinds of value creation and capture mechanisms in infrastructure projects 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Continuous engagement with research partners from the industry and the public sector and facilitating the translation of research findings into practice- innovation. 
 
Description Anglian Water 
Organisation Anglian Water Services
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contribution is to the AMP7 strategic delivery framework for the @one Alliance and Anglian Water using insights from project and organisational management and research methodology to analyse interviews with highly-knowledgeable informants.
Collaborator Contribution Continuous engagement with Alliance and framework management and 18 interviews that were subsequently analysed.
Impact A number of presentations to the AW @One alliance research sponsors, a technical report released and a conference paper presented in the European Group for Organisation Studies conference in Tallinn 2018.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Arup 
Organisation Arup Group
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contribution to the understanding of the future of project management and exploratory research on management of grand challenges infrastructure projects.
Collaborator Contribution Arup has kindly provided access to a 24 of senior management to be interviewed on the above.
Impact Published industry publication https://www.arup.com/publications/research/section/future-of-project-management
Start Year 2017
 
Description European Investment Bank 
Organisation European Investment Bank
Country Luxembourg 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Commitment to contribute on the development and refinement of the EIB project appraisal methodology.
Collaborator Contribution Commitment to contribute a number of research interviews to the project team.
Impact A number of meetings and interactions including formal research interviews conducted, presentation of a case project focusing on risk allocation.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Heathrow Airport Limited 
Organisation Heathrow Airport Holdings
Department London Heathrow Airport
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Continuous engagement with the Heathrow Expansion Team and the Transitions team to help with strategic decision-making in their ongoing and future projects.
Collaborator Contribution Around 20 interviews on project transitions contributed to the research - scheduled for April and May 2019. A 3-months research-driven engagement with the early Heathrow Expansion Team to inform their decision making on the role of innovation and projects in the expansion strategy.
Impact A number of conference papers with presentations, research article in the International Journal of Project Management.
Start Year 2017
 
Description RIjkswaterstaat 
Organisation Rijkswaterstaat (Netherlands)
Country Netherlands 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We visited the premises of Rijkswaterstaat and conducted 14 interviews with infrastructure project leadership on value creation and capture mechanisms.
Collaborator Contribution Provided access to their highly knowledgeable informants.
Impact Database of interviews is being put together and makes part of the value taxonomy.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Transport for London 
Organisation Transport for London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Analysis of the value creation and capture processes in capital projects and operations.
Collaborator Contribution Transport for London have expressed interest in this research and have committed to supporting it with a number of research interviews - for data collection purposes. As part of the grant, 7 interviews already conducted on the rollout of contactless payment system.
Impact Generating a database of interview accounts and project documentation on the contactless payment system development and rollout.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UCL East 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Working with the UCL East team on the UCL East legacy strategy and planning to coordinate lessons learned knowledge workshops.
Collaborator Contribution Generating a dataset comprising interviews with project leadership and other project documentation.
Impact Still no outputs to be reported
Start Year 2017
 
Description Arup future of PM 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project team contributed to the Arup (world renowned built environment design and engineering consultancy) research industry publication on the future of Project Management - leading to a collaborative activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.arup.com/publications/research/section/future-of-project-management
 
Description BRINK article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Zerjav, V. and Vine, R. (2018) How Can We Evaluate an Infrastructure Project's Success-or Failure? BRINK - The Digital News Service of the Marsh & McLennan Insights, 4 December 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.brinknews.com/how-can-we-evaluate-an-infrastructure-projects-success-or-failure/
 
Description Bartlett annual review 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Work of the project team (Prof Davies and Dr Zerjav) on mega-projects and infrastructure featured in the Bartlett annual review publication with wide-reaching impact. Contribution included the PI providing an interview for the publication.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/review/2016/themes/infrastructure/why-london-leads-world-megaprojects...
 
Description Brink industry publication 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An opinion piece titled: How Can We Evaluate an Infrastructure Project's Success-or Failurei published in a high impact industry publication Brink. BRINK gathers timely perspectives from experts on risk and resilience around the world to inform business and policy decisions on critical challenges. It is the digital news service of Marsh & McLennan Companies' Global Risk Center, managed by Atlantic 57, the digital consultancy of The Atlantic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.brinknews.com/how-can-we-evaluate-an-infrastructure-projects-success-or-failure/
 
Description Demystifying EPSRC/ESRC/ERC grants 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invitation to give a talk and participate in the panel: Demystifying EPSRC, ESRC, and ERC Grant Schemes at the University of Bristol. CHOBE/ARCOM Built Environment Early Career Researchers (ECRs) Workshop on 20 June 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://vimeo.com/223295581/c7c6e14d15
 
Description Keynote Lecture James Stewart 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the Rethinking infrastructure keynote lecture series, co-organised and hosted the talk by James Stewart from KPMG. Because the talks are video recorded and posted online, the impact is international.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/9845
 
Description Keynote Lecture Prof Jeffrey Pinto 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the Rethinking infrastructure keynote lecture series, co-organised and hosted the talk by Prof Jeffrey Pinto on 7 Deadly sins of Project Planning. Because the talks are video recorded and posted online, the impact is international.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Player/11195
 
Description Keynote Lecture Ray Levitt 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Hosted the Rethinking Infrastructure Keynote Lecture Series in the 2017-2018 academic year. The first speaker in 2017 was Prof Raymond Levitt whit whom I have developed a collaboration in Stanford University as part of the Award.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/construction/news/2017/oct/prof-raymond-levitt-discusses-barriers-inn...
 
Description National Platform talk on business models and value 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The PI was invited to give a talk on and host a discussion session at the National Platform for the Built Environment event on Business Models to Support Digital Innovation. The event was hosted by Constructing Excellence, an organisation dealing with the change agenda in the UK construction industry. The event took place in Pinsent Masons London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.eventbrite.com/e/national-platform-business-models-to-support-digital-innovation-tickets...
 
Description Seattle Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Visited University of Washington, Seattle hosted by Professor Carrie Sturts Dossick and Dr Jessica Kaminsky to discuss future collaboration and case study work. Delivered a research presentation on 17 May 2017 to reseaerchers and faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://cm.be.washington.edu/news_events/events-calendar/#/?i=8
 
Description keynote Lecture Shashi Verma 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the Rethinking infrastructure keynote lecture series, co-organised and hosted the talk by Shashi Verma from TfL. Because the talks are video recorded and posted online, the impact is international.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://mediacentral.ucl.ac.uk/Play/11516