This research was prompted by the apparent lack of innovation in the South African construction industry. The aim was to obtain a better understanding of the state of innovation. The strategy involved engaging construction contractors in the mining industry to obtain information regarding their view of innovation in the construction industry. Data was collected following a mixed-method strategy. A literature review, interviews, a focus group and questionnaires formed part of the data-gathering strategy.
A number of findings emerged from the study, notably that innovation is important for a contractor to facilitate differentiation, and to be more competitive. The industry has high levels of competition and low entry barriers. Relationships are complex, with clients demanding complex structures to operate at low cost and within tight schedules. Levels of investment in research and development (R&D) are generally low. There are not enough experienced and trained role-players, and the level of trust between role-players needs to be strengthened. Cooperation between industry and academics, and investment in R&D is insufficient. Government focuses too much on the empowerment of previously disadvantaged individuals, ignoring the innovation history and experience of potential contractors, which means that contractors are not motivated to be innovative. As a legislator, government is viewed as hampering innovation by not ensuring that the training of artisans is up to standard, by enforcing labour laws which do not allow for the easy transfer of skilled employees, and by neglecting to assist underperforming apprentices in improving their skills.