Despite the increasing significance of the construction industry as an emerging sector of the Australian economy, there is inadequate research performed on construction design firms in terms of theoretical and empirical foundations. Although past research has identified the barriers and success factors for firm market entry, evidence suggests that to date no research has explicitly explored the sustainability of construction design firms in international markets. SMEs and their approach to firm internationalisation differ significantly from large manufacturing firms and a vast majority of construction design firms operate as SMEs. This paper develops a sustainable business model for construction design SMEs, which rely upon the development of clear Client Following (CF) versus Market Seeking (MS) strategies to support internal firm strategic and operational management. The understanding of these strategies is vital as the application of either will shape the design management approach of firms, which would in turn impact on the sustainability of these firms in foreign markets. Long-term sustainability of firms in international markets relies heavily upon client satisfaction. Client and project team participants’ communication during various design processes has often been problematic and the added difficulty of communicating across international boundaries further compounds the problem of capturing and maintaining client’s requirements. Therefore this paper develops a model for business sustainability of Australian construction design firms working in international markets by exploring factors that affect client satisfaction across international boundaries, through the development of business performance indicators. These include not only the critical financial capital but also other ‘softer’ indicators, namely: social, cultural and intellectual capital. These act as a firm’s measure of success and the acquisition of this type of capital will provide significant advantages to firms’ success, hence sustainability in international markets.
1st Clients Driving Innovation International Conference. Proceedings of Clients Driving Innovation International Conference 2004 (Surfers Paradise, Qld. 25-27 October, 2004)