In the knowledge economy era, industries have gradually transformed from labor intensive to knowledge intensive [1
]. To this end, enterprises have increasingly depended on intangible assets, including knowledge, corporate culture, human creativity, and innovation, to create value [2
]. Innovation plays an indispensable role in gaining and sustaining the competitive advantage of enterprises, including construction enterprises [3
]. By engaging in product and service innovation, enterprises can improve their performance and maintain a competitive advantage in the market [6
]. The operating environment of enterprises is among those factors that contribute to their innovation. For instance, those enterprises operating in a dynamic environment face huge challenges from constantly changing internal and external factors, and an enterprise that fails to respond to these changes may be eliminated from the market. Innovation can also promote the sustainable development of countries [8
], that is, the sustainable development of an economy hinges on its innovation. Accordingly, many countries have begun to acknowledge the importance of innovation as a driver of economic growth [3
]. As pillars of China’s economy, construction enterprises increase their competitiveness in the market by concentrating on their innovation efforts [9
] and gain a competitive advantage over their competitors by properly orientating their innovation processes [10
In the 21st century, project-based industries, particularly the construction industry, are facing much pressure to compete in new ways; the enterprises in these industries must possess the relevant knowledge and intellectual capital to realize innovation, and intellectual capital plays an important role in achieving such goal [11
]. Measuring intellectual capital at the national level can help analyze and compare the competencies and capacities of an economy as well as contribute to the adoption and adjustment of policies and practices for promoting economic development [12
]. As a core element of invisible assets that are viewed as core competencies in the market, intellectual capital is crucial for enterprises to achieve an excellent performance and receive long-term profits. In other words, intellectual capital is essential in achieving innovation [1
], and the innovation of an enterprise is closely related to its intellectual capital [13
]. Egbu [15
] argues that construction enterprises should adopt various and targeted measures (such as education and training of construction personnel and promoting an innovation-supporting culture) that can improve intellectual capital to realize innovation. Other researchers describe the present society as a knowledge-based society in which the storage and application of knowledge serve as bases for the capital accumulation of enterprises. Many industries in such society, including the construction industry, depend on knowledge management rather than traditional production factors (e.g., equipment and labor) to achieve and sustain their competitive advantage in the market. Following these arguments, the importance of knowledge management and intellectual capital needs to be highlighted. Previous studies show that intellectual capital and knowledge sharing can stimulate both innovation and innovation performance [1
], but not all enterprises, specifically from the construction industry, have truly realized the potential benefits of these factors.
Previous studies suggest that innovative enterprises generally outperform those that lack innovation [4
]. However, only few construction enterprises are engaging in innovation activities. The construction industry serves as the pillar industry of China’s economy, and the development of construction enterprises is directly related to China’s economic development. Innovation plays a vital role in the construction industry. Specifically, the realization of innovation projects is closely related to improvements in the innovation ability and performance of construction enterprises and can significantly influence their competitiveness. China’s construction industry is known for its low level of innovation and its dependence on labor to complete its projects. However, to adapt to an era of knowledge economy, this industry must start adopting advanced technologies [20
]. Accordingly, project innovation, as one driver of the growth of the construction industry, has received the attention of many researchers [22
While many studies have examined the impact of intellectual capital on innovation performance, only few have considered the factor of knowledge sharing and analyzed the relationship among intellectual capital, knowledge sharing, and innovation performance of the construction industry [24
]. In addition, these studies have mostly focused on enterprises from different industries without any specificity, and the mediating effect of knowledge sharing on the relationship between intellectual capital and innovation performance in the construction industry remains largely unexplored. These gaps in the literature highlight the importance of examining the relationships among the intellectual capital, knowledge sharing, and innovation performance of construction enterprises, and this paper aims to address such gaps.
Given the lack of information about the intellectual capital, knowledge sharing, and innovation performance of construction enterprises, this paper examines the role of intellectual capital in innovation performance of construction enterprises and investigates the role of knowledge sharing as a possible intervening mechanism that mediates the relationship between intellectual capital and innovation performance. In other words, this exploratory study attempts to identify the relationship among the intellectual capital, knowledge sharing, and innovation performance of construction enterprises.
This study chooses the construction industry as its context given that the construction sector is not only an important contributor to human settlements but also serves as a key driver of economic growth. In other words, this industry plays a critical role in the economic and societal development of a country [25
This paper is organized as follows. First, the research background about intellectual capital, knowledge sharing, and innovation performance in construction industry is introduced. Second, the relationships among intellectual capital, innovation performance, and knowledge sharing is examined by reviewing the literature, and corresponding research hypotheses are proposed. Third, the research design, including the sample, data collection procedures, and related measurements are presented. Fourth, the results of the data analysis are discussed. Fifth, the paper concludes by presenting its limitations, the implications of its findings, and some directions for future work.