The role of “pioneering projects” in the sustainable buildings industry
Studies of innovation management have often focused on two domains: technologies and markets. An ever-increasing standard of living is pushing companies to develop products and services that are not only profitable but also socially responsible. Sustainable housing offers an intriguing empirical setting that allows the investigation of new processes able to support innovations that must be both profitable and socially responsible. Energy-efficient houses not only require technological changes (new sustainable energy technologies) but also require behavioural changes in consumers’ attitudes, decisions and practices about living in sustainable houses. Companies are not only innovative in regard to their own product but apply the entire system of application with which their specific technologies interact. The development of Pioneering Projects requires many skills and competencies that often exceed the capacity and competencies of a single company. In other words, Pioneering Projects are testing grounds for experimentation, where unconventional, temporary partnerships of stakeholders from different industries unite in the development of real market applications. The paper addresses the value of key interpreters in facilitating the development of radical innovations of meanings in the sustainable buildings industry. Specifically, the paper analyses the ability to create value for the Pioneering Projects from the exploration and knowledge diversity of the interpreters and the impact that Pioneering Projects have on the companies’ outcomes. Empirical data about Pioneering Projects were collected from two manufacturing companies in Denmark: DOVISTA and Saint-Gobain Isover.