Inter-organizational context of the innovation process and the role of architectural designers as system integrators: CCase evidence from Turkey

Yasemin Erbil*, Nilüfer Akincitürk, Emrah Acar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The construction industry is characterized as a complex product system industry. Complex product system projects require the temporary coalitions of organizations, efforts of which are coordinated by a specific type of organization called the 'system integrator'. Although the traditional construction innovation literature assumes that the system integrator role is shared between the principal designer and principal contractor in a typical project, the complexity of built products may require the contribution of different types of system integrators, the roles of which may coincide over the life cycle of a project. An exploratory study was conducted to understand the extent to which architectural designers fulfil their system integrator role in the innovation process. In particular, the innovation-related information exchanges between architectural designers and other actors in their networks were the focus of interest. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted to gather data from the owners/partners of 13 leading architectural design firms in Turkey. The findings suggest that based on the project delivery system and the contractual relationships, various actors can be system integrators at the different phases of a project, while a system integrator's role may also evolve over time. The core capabilities, the tools and routines, the stakeholders and the sources of complexity for a particular system integrator may depend on the client and market characteristics. The early collaboration of various system integrators within a project appears to be key to develop innovative design solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-94
Number of pages18
JournalArchitectural Engineering and Design Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • architectural designers
  • complex product systems
  • innovation
  • inter-organizational relationships
  • system integrators


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