A phenomenologically based contingent anatomy of competitive advantage within the construction industry
Sustainable competitive advantage (CA) is a necessary requirement of a rational economic business organisation. Without this CA a business does not have a rational source for appropriating added value in the form of retained profit. Various management research papers have identified numerous factors that may create a source of competitive advantage. Other researchers have shown how industries have changed through time. This thesis shows a temporal development of competitive advantage for the construction industry (CAC). The thesis will structure sources of CA to show the significance of each source during the lifecycle of the business and the industry. The thesis shows how the identified sources vary over time. The thesis will develop the concept of a temporal hierarchy as a model for identifying and developing potential sources of CA at any point in the lifecycle of a particular business entity. The research identifies which sources of CA may be most appropriate (at a given point in the lifecycle) to sacrifice in order to create a further (and higher) source of CA. The proposed temporal hierarchy suggests four 'dynamic' epochs, Factor, Investment, Innovation and Wealth and when these epochs are combined with the 'detail' hierarchies of internal 'detail', distinctive capability 'detail' and external 'detail' a comprehensive anatomy of competitive advantage within the construction industry is presented. The conclusion of the thesis includes examples of the application of the temporal model to a small sample of case studies, showing the representativeness of the model to 'real-life' businesses. The phenomenological reservations implicit in the study are evaluated and recommendations are made for further research.