UK Data Service data catalogue record for:

Building modern homes

Title details

SN: 853109
Title: Building modern homes
Persistent identifier: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-853109
Depositor: Martin Sexton, University of Reading
Principal investigator(s): Sexton, M, University of Reading
Sponsor(s): Economic and Social Research Council
Grant number: ES/M000249/1


The citation for this study is:

Sexton, M. (2018). Building modern homes. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 853109,

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Subject Categories

Science and technology


Abstract copyright data collection owner.

This contains transcripts of interviews with construction professionals involved in the support and diffusion of MMCs and of meetings. This includes transcripts of meetings between project managers, architects, structural engineers and supply chain partners about the support and diffusion of innovations.

The research explores the significant challenge that the uptake of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) poses for UK house builders. Focusing on the development of new products and processes at the project level and their diffusion across a large multi-regional firm we asked: How can construction firms take advantage of project-level innovations? How do these innovations travel across large, complex firms? And how do standards shape innovations and how do innovations feed into ongoing changes in standards? While many scholars highlight the challenges of cross-project learning and the diffusion of innovations, little empirical or theoretical work has been done on the 'anchoring of innovations' at the firm-level. Similarly, little work has been done on the travel of innovations across projects within a large, multi-regional firm. As a number of observers have noted, the sector knows how to build with MMCs; what it does not know how to do is to incorporate that know-how into standard practice. The research questions are informed by the application of actor-network theory and neo-institutionalism to the study of key technical innovations. These include: (1) to identify and explain the development of a number of key product and process innovations; (2) to examine the impact of those innovations on firm-level practices (including supply chains, procurement, internal management systems, business models, policies and strategies); (3) to follow the introduction of those innovations into other housing projects and to document similarities and differences in project-level accommodation to those elements; (4) to use this analysis to theorise processes of innovation, diffusion and stabilisation/institutionalisation (in firm-level strategies, systems and practices) within large, project-based firms; and, (5) to contrast the findings produced by the deployment of neo-institutionalism and actor-network theory. The research will draw upon the analysis of documents, relevant artefacts, in-depth interviews and observations.

Coverage, universe, methodology

Dates of fieldwork: 01 June 2015 - 30 November 2017
Country: United Kingdom
Observation units: Events and processes
Kind of data: Textual
Method of data collection: The study adopted a qualitative approach to understand the way volume house builders identify, capture and diffuse innovations across their businesses. The project drew upon the analysis of relevant documents, 36 in-depth interviews and observations of meetings involving multiple participants. The research began by interviewing key people in the selected housing developments. This initial exploratory phase will be used to develop an in-depth understanding of selected technical innovations and the key people and issues involved. The research then ‘followed’ the selected innovations and key people – through snowball sampling - as they move from across the builders’ housing developments and businesses to gain a detailed understanding of how innovations are adapted and used in different settings. This approach was supplemented by site visits to capture how attempts to diffuse large format blockwork involved site specific challenges.

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Administrative and access information

Date of release:
First edition: 04 July 2018
Latest edition: 04 July 2018 (minor amendments only)
Copyright: Martin Sexton, University of Reading
Access conditions: The Data Collection is available for download to users registered with the UK Data Service.
Availability: UK Data Service
Contact: Martin Sexton, University of Reading


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