Diffusion of digital innovation in construction: a case study of a UK engineering firm

Amna Shibeika, Chris Harty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


The UK government is mandating the use of building information modelling (BIM) in large public projects by 2016. As a result, engineering firms are faced with challenges related to embedding new technologies and associated working practices for the digital delivery of major infrastructure projects. Diffusion of innovations theory is used to investigate how digital innovations diffuse across complex firms. A contextualist approach is employed through an in-depth case study of a large, international engineering project-based firm. The analysis of the empirical data, which was collected over a four-year period of close interaction with the firm, reveals parallel paths of diffusion occurring across the firm, where both the innovation and the firm context were continually changing. The diffusion process is traced over three phases: centralization of technology management, standardization of digital working practices, and globalization of digital resources. The findings describe the diffusion of a digital innovation as multiple and partial within a complex social system during times of change and organizational uncertainty, thereby contributing to diffusion of innovations studies in construction by showing a range of activities and dynamics of a non-linear diffusion process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-466
Number of pages14
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 3 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Building information modelling
  • case study
  • diffusion of innovations
  • digital technologies
  • project-based firm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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