Differentiation strategy in the construction industry: a multiperspective view of sources of sustainable competitive advantage to win infrastructural projects in Ireland

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Weinmann, Philip
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MA of Business Administration (executive)
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the infrastructure sector of the Irish construction industry and consider the extent to which strategic management is prevalent. In particular it will describe the effectiveness of a differentiation strategy, a generic strategy devised by Porter (1985), and whether it can provide sustainable competitive advantage. The research will also compare the merits of a differentiation strategy to a low price strategy, which has tended to be the dominant approach used in the industry, now considered a hypercompetitive industry after several years of continued extensive investment in infrastructure construction. The research will consider the topic from two perspectives, in other words from a buyer's and vendor's point of view and it will be directed towards the three main organisation groups in the industry, namely consulting engineers, main contractors and local authorities. The dissertation will include an extensive literature review encompassing significant theoretical work that has been written about the subject. The research methodology will demonstrate how primary data has been obtained using mixed methods of research including an electronic questionnaire based survey and in-depth interviews with key individuals from the sample populations. The findings of this dissertation shall demonstrate that considerable consideration should be given to strategic management in general by firms in the industry. It will also illustrate there is substantial evidence to suggest already there are many firms incorporating facets of a differentiation strategy. The research suggests that such a strategy can compete favourably with a low price strategy and will list the most important factors and dimensions along which this strategy can be configured. The results of this study also provide some useful indications of what measures are associated with the implementation and sustainability of a differentiation strategy.