Technology and change in the
Swedish architectural industry
Gothenburg Research Institute, Gothenburg, Sweden, and
m and Timothy L. Wilson
School of Business, Umea
Purpose – This paper seeks to apply a structurational model of technology to reﬂect on the
introduction, assimilation, and consequent industry change that accompanied the introduction of
computer aided design (CAD) into the Swedish architectural industry.
Design/methodology/approach – The original research was designed to follow a change in an
industry as it was occurring. A longitudinal study was used and the research design was centered on
two surveys, taken 46 months apart during the adoption period, to examine the adoption and spread
of the innovation. A structurational model of technology permits one to understand the interaction of
people, technology, and institutions during these periods.
Findings – The competitive nature of the industry was affected. Adopters tended to adapt their
business offerings to provide extended services whereas non-adopters pursued an artistic emphasis in
service provision. Technology came from suppliers to users, which in turn affected customers to the
extent that they endorsed use. Understanding thus requires extending the two dimensional nature of
the model to three dimensions involving supplier, user, and customers.
Research limitations/implications – One could always be critical of the speciﬁc geographic focus
(Sweden), the speciﬁc industry (architecture), the speciﬁc technology (CAD) and the model
(structuration) to explain a speciﬁc competitive development. Extension to other situations, of course,
would strengthen and extend understanding.
Practical implications – Just knowing the nature of these developments should be of use to
managers during such periods. That is, there is likely to be a split in the industry and both
organizational types are likely to see their businesses affected.
Originality/value – The structurational model is necessarily extended to three dimensions in
rationalizing the development.
Keywords Communication technologies, Computer aided design, Architecture, Sweden
Paper type Research paper
It is difﬁcult to overemphasize the importance of technology in an organization’s
environment. Some scholars, in fact, suggest that it is the most important factor in the
business environment (Capon and Glazer, 1987; Kotler, 2000, p. 148; Kotler et al., 2002,
p. 135). Grove (2003), who led Intel to its position in chip dominance, asserted
innovation has the power to transform industries and called it the “holy grail of
business strategy.” Leslie Moeller, Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton consultancy,
apparently agreed, suggesting: “Innovation is the engine powering long-term value”
(Salz, 2003). Technology, however, is unpredictable. Grove (2003) indicated that
innovators do not always survive; the history of technology-based industries –
communications, computing, and health sciences is marked by such observations.
In a similar vein, Quinn (1992) asserted that restructuring frequently leaves behind
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Competitiveness Review: An
International Business Journal
Vol. 19 No. 1, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited