BIM compatibility and its differentiation with interoperability challenges as an innovation factor

Sara Shirowzhan, Samad M.E. Sepasgozar, David J. Edwards, Heng Li, Chen Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Building information modelling (BIM) applications are being increasingly introduced throughout the construction industry and within academia, a large amount of BIM applications has been recommended within literature. However, coverage of the theory of BIM diffusion (which combines contextual and technical issues of the applications) remains scant and underdeveloped. Compatibility is one of the key contextual factors of Diffusion of Innovation theory that involves predicting BIM adopters' behaviours and identifying what components require extra effort for successful BIM implementation. However, this important theoretical concept has not been developed in pertinent BIM literature nor used correctly to extend existing knowledge because compatibility variables are not understood in a construction context. This seriously impedes the correct usage of BIM in construction. This study systematically and critically reviews BIM compatibility (BIM-COM) literature to distinguish compatibility issues at the organisational level and the concept of interoperability at the technical level. A sample of 57 out of the 131 articles constituted secondary data and each paper represented the unit of analysis. Bibliographic analysis techniques were used to identify co-authoring network and contents' concentration in the created bibliography. Content analysis and text mining approaches were employed using a thematic clustering analysis for grouping authors and themes within articles. The findings illustrate that the concept of compatibility is surprisingly poorly understood and often overlooked in the literature. The paper argues that interoperability issues prevail as the key practical barrier to BIM implementation. The paper identifies a large knowledge gap in terms of improving compatibility measures, which should be employed by innovators to assess their BIM applications before they offer it to construction companies. The findings presented will help to extend BIM applications and speed up the adoption rate among stakeholders with different needs and using different file formats.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103086
JournalAutomation in Construction
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Adoption
  • BIM
  • Compatibility
  • Data and model exchange
  • Implementation
  • Interoperability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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