Research Project

Large-scale Projects as Innovation Drivers in the Construction Industry

At least at first glance, the recent history of mega-projects has largely been written as a record of disasters: Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Berlin airport and Stuttgart 21 railway station are only the most notorious examples of planning failures, costly overspending, and excessive delays. And yet, a second glance reveals another dimension of large-scale construction ventures: The Eiffel Tower, Sidney Opera House, Golden Gate Bridge, to name just a few, have turned into icons that set historical benchmarks in terms of construction techniques and technology, organizational processes as well as architectural design. Based on six proto-typical case-studies, this research project explicitly focuses on this so far largely disregarded facet of large construction projects. The research team combines the perspectives of architecture, structural engineering, management research and urban economics, and seeks to answer the question of how innovations within the entire construction value chain originate and are disseminated across the involved industries. The interdisciplinary composition of the team allows conceiving of each project as both an organizational challenge (of managing a project) as well as a technical and design challenge (of producing a building). The ‘socio-technical’ research perspective promises insights into organizational and technical interdependencies of innovation processes unattainable through traditional mono-disciplinary research.

Commissioned by:
Behörde für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Gleichstellung der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg - Landesforschungsförderung

Project period: June 2017 to November 2020



Dr. Joachim Thiel

HafenCity University
Urban and Regional Economics

Überseeallee 16 
D-20457 Hamburg

5th Floor | Room 5006a