Contractors in Green Construction: Relationships to Suppliers and Developers

University dissertation from Chalmers University of Technology

Abstract: Introduction of green changes in different stages of a construction project are reflected in construction processes and products, and in the relationship between contractors and other firms and consequently in the business model of contractors. The aim of this thesis is to understand and analyse contractors’ collaboration practices with suppliers and clients in green construction projects and processes, and see if there are differences in how contractors collaborate with their clients and suppliers as a result of engaging in green construction. This thesis is based on three studies. The first study identifies probable changes in the business model of construction firms when they engage in green construction through a systematic literature review, and its results are the foundation for the second and third studies. The second study analyses contractors’ relationships with their goods suppliers in green projects, through semi-structured interviews. The third is a case study of how vertically-integrated developers can affect innovation in construction projects, based on semi-structured interviews and documents with a Swedish contractor and its vertically-integrated developer. This is followed by a conceptual investigation of the phenomenon of vertical integration of developers. This thesis suggests that for contractors to profit from engaging in green construction, simultaneous or co-evolutionary changes in a number of business model elements, including capability and partner network, are needed. This implies that firms in the contractors’ partner network act as sources of knowledge. Selection of suppliers with green knowledge and collaboration with them in close relationships were found to be important for both knowledge acquisition and reduction in contractors’ costs primarily through reduction of supplier failures to meet green requirements. The integration with developers allows contractors to work more continuously with innovative projects to develop and exploit new capabilities, and also to signal proficiency to the market, employees and the investment community while mitigating the risks involved in green projects.

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