Projects as a speciation and aggregation mechanism in transitions: Bridging project management and transitions research in the digitalization of UK architecture, engineering, and construction industry

George Papachristos, Eleni Papadonikolaki, Bethan Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Sociotechnical transitions are mostly seen in the literature as processes where actors and technologies in small niches peripheral to an organizational field, accumulate momentum, scale up, aggregate, and eventually bring about large-scale regime change. Foundational examples include the British transition from sailing ships to steamships and the American transition from traditional factories to mass production. Herein lies a paradox, transitions concern large scale system change for example transition to electric cars or renewable energy, but large-scale options for technological change driven by incumbents have received less attention in transitions research. This is an important opportunity for transition research to draw on the literature of project management research on large-scale projects. We bridge transitions research and project management research by exploring speciation and aggregation from both perspectives. We illustrate how this bridge may be instantiated drawing on published research and interviews on six megaprojects that have been instrumental in the digital transformation of UK construction: (i) the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, (ii) Heathrow Terminal 5, (iii) London Olympics, (iv) Crossrail, (v) Thames Tideway and (vi) High Speed Two. The speciation of digital technology seeds the process of aggregation and UK industry transition which is driven by incumbents at the organizational field core and ripples outward to its periphery. This is a reverse process to the one mostly considered in transition research where change initiates in small niches peripheral to an organizational field and propagates until it eventually brings about large-scale change to its core.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102967
Number of pages21
JournalTechnovation
Volume132
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Speciation
  • Aggregation
  • Transitions
  • Project management
  • BIM

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