Strategic Management Practices of Indonesian Construction Firms: a Dynamic Capabilities View Essay

Since the establishment of the first national strategic development plan in the early 1970s, the construction industry has played an important role in terms of the economic, social and cultural development of Indonesia. The industry’s contribution to Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased from 3. 9% in 1973 to 7. 7% in 2007. Business Monitoring International (2009) forecasts that Indonesia is home to one of the fastest-growing construction industries in Asia despite the average construction growth rate being expected to remain under 10% over the period 2006 – 2010.

Similarly, Howlett and Powell (2006) place Indonesia as one of the 20 largest construction markets in 2010. Although the prospects for the Indonesian construction industry are now very promising, many local construction firms still face serious difficulties, such as poor performance and low competitiveness. There are two main reasons behind this problem: the environment that they face is not favourable; the other is the lack of strategic direction to improve competitiveness and performance.

Furthermore, although strategic management has now become more widely used by many large construction firms in developed countries, practical examples and empirical studies related to the Indonesian construction industry remain scarce. In addition, research endeavours related to these topics in developing countries appear to be limited. This has potentially become one of the factors hampering efforts to guide Indonesian construction enterprises.

This research aims to construct a conceptual model to enable Indonesian construction enterprises to develop a sound long-term corporate strategy that generates competitive advantage and superior performance. The conceptual model seeks to address the main prescription of a dynamic capabilities framework (Teece, Pisano & Shuen, 1997; Teece, 2007) within the context of the Indonesian construction industry.

It is hypothesised that in a rapidly changing and varied environment, competitive success arises from the continuous development and reconfiguration of II firm’s specific assets achieving competitive advantage is not only dependent on the exploitation of specific assets/capabilities, but on the exploitation of all of the assets and capabilities combinations in the dynamic capabilities framework. Thus, the model is refined through sequential statistical regression analyses of survey results with a sample size of 120 valid responses.

The results of this study provide empirical evidence in support of the notion that a competitive advantage is achieved via the implementation of a dynamic capability framework as an important way for a construction enterprise to improve its organisational performance. The characteristics of asset-capability combinations were found to be significant determinants of the competitive advantage of the Indonesian construction enterprises, and that such advantage sequentially contributes to organisational performance.

If a dynamic capabilities framework can work in the context of Indonesia, it suggests that the framework has potential applicability in other emerging and developing countries. This study also demonstrates the importance of the multi-stage nature of the model which provides a rich understanding of the dynamic process by which asset-capability should be exploited in combination by the construction firms operating in varying levels of hostility.

Such findings are believed to be useful to both academics and practitioners, however, as this research represents a dynamic capabilities framework at the enterprise level, future studies should continue to explore and examine the framework in other levels of strategic management in construction as well as in other countries where different cultures or similar conditions prevails. Keywords: Indonesia, construction enterprises, dynamic capabilities, hierarchical regression analysis, competitive advantage, organisational performance. III