Digitalization and innovation in the real estate and facility management sectors - an ecosystem perspective
Time: Tue 2020-02-18 14.00
Subject area: Business Studies
Doctoral student: Olli Kytömäki , Ledning och organisering i byggande och förvaltning
Opponent: Professor Kim Wikström, Åbo Akademi, Finland
Supervisor: Professor Kent Eriksson, Skolan för arkitektur och samhällsbyggnad (ABE)
Digitalization has become a topic of several presentations and discussions in real estate industry seminars in recent years. Often the speeches are about why the real estate industry needs digitalization, presenting threats and opportunities for the participants of the seminars. Still, real estate industry is conservative by nature and thus far property owners have not needed to innovate in order to stay in business. Therefore, a question arises that how do real estate owners react to the growing expectations about digitalization. On the other hand, relatively little is known about the innovativeness of real estate firms, as innovation research in built environment sector has largely focused on building project management phase organizations and facility management firms. Still, the real estate owners have a central role and a long-term perspective on the innovation in the built environment sector as a whole, as they are clients in all building life-cycle phases.
Thus, this thesis purpose is to increase understanding of digitalization as a phenomenon in the real estate and facility management sectors: 1) by distinguishing the phenomenon in relation to existing research and 2) by generating new knowledge on digitalization in the field by explorative research.
In order to distinguish the phenomenon in relation to existing research, the thesis provides a structured literature review that focuses on digitalization in the real estate and facility management sector. The main conclusion is that digitalization is a complex phenomenon, including multiple perspectives and conceptualizations, although, the literature converges on rather distinct topics of digital systems and methods, technology adoption and organization and management. Additionally, the review provides a discussion of opportunities for further research. An argument is made for sociotechnical perspective to provide opportunities for better managerial comprehension on the complex phenomenon.
In order to generate new knowledge on digitalization in the field, particularly, on the innovativeness of real estate firms, the thesis provides summaries of two papers. The first paper focuses on the innovation processes in the real estate owner organizations and the second paper focuses on the innovation ecosystem that comprises of actors that contribute towards common innovation goals. The papers are based on interviews with the various real estate industry actors and document analysis. The papers converge on results, concluding that the real estate owners have invested in resources and capabilities for innovation, but it is still challenging for them to act on the digital threats and opportunities. Additionally, the second paper develops an operationalizable definition and methodology for research on innovation ecosystems, which has relevance for the more general literature on innovation and strategy.
Thus, this thesis distinguishes digitalization as a phenomenon in the built environment management sectors and increases understanding on the innovativeness of real estate firms’ and other actors that contribute to the innovativeness of the real estate sector as a whole.