The Interaction between Technology, Progress and Economic Growth
Edited by Terrence E. Brown and Jan Ulijn
Chapter 3: Knowledge management, institutions and professional cultures in engineering consulting services: the case of Hong Kong
1 Erik Baark Although engineering consulting is a knowledge-intensive business service that has been practised for many years in advanced industrialized economies, its crucial function for innovation related to the built environment has received relatively little attention. Services have only recently become a prominent item on the agenda of innovation research, as scholars gradually seek to understand the diﬀerences and similarities between innovation in services and in manufacturing (Howells, 2000). The new interest in service innovation has led to the development of more sophisticated taxonomies of innovation patterns in various subsectors of services (Metcalfe and Miles, 2000). Technical and engineering consultancy is usually classiﬁed as highly innovative, belonging to a group of technology-based knowledge intensive business services that are concerned with the production and transfer of new knowledge (Roberts, Andersen and Hull, 2000). However, engineering consultants are often associated with the construction industry, a sector of the economy that has traditionally been regarded as very conservative, exhibiting a low rate of innovation. This image of construction as an innovative laggard has been reinforced by the low rate of explicit, formal research and development (R&D) activities and investment reported by ﬁrms in the sector. Expenditures on R&D in construction, measured on the basis of the activities undertaken by contractors and sub-suppliers, range from 0.01 per cent to 0.4 per cent of construction value-added for OECD countries, ﬁgures that are signiﬁcantly lower than the 3–4 per cent of value-added spent on R&D in manufacturing (see...
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