Case study can give important new insights into the systemic nature of construction innovation and the interrelationship between local innovation successes and structural forces shaping the sector. Even well-defined, modular innovations can have significant repercussions on the industry level. Recent innovation in building materials for wet rooms in Norway represents an attempt to modify only limited aspects of the established approach to housebuilding, but is made difficult by institutions and actors relying on established methods and existing building products. Institutions acting as innovation brokers can be very important for innovators. However, brokering is no panacea for promoting disruptive innovation. A broker can thwart rather than promote potentially useful but disruptive innovations. Because innovation is a re-institutionalization process, the third-party position needed for brokering effectively can be undermined, whenever a successful broker attains vested interests in the innovation outcomes it has helped bring forth. Methodologically, employing theories on technological innovation systems and on multilevel socio-technical systems shows that these are effective, complementary tools for analysis of innovation in construction. Only the latter incorporates the notion of innovation as creative destruction, and it is by drawing on this theory that the precariousness of the brokering role can be highlighted. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
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