Managing Complex Product Development - Three Approaches 2009-06-04¢  Managing Complex Product Development

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  • Managing Complex Product Development - Three Approaches

    Niclas Adler


    Som for avUiggande av ekonomie doktorsexamen vid Handelshogskolan i Stockholm framUiggs for offentlig granskning

    fredagen den 10 december 1999, kl. 14.15 i sal Torsten Handelshogskolan, Sveavagen 65.

  • Managing Complex Product Development - Three Approaches


    EFI Mission EFI, the Economic Research Institute at the Stockholm School of Economics, is a scientific institution which works independently of economic, political and sectional interests. It conducts theoretical and empirical research in management and economic sciences, including selected related disciplines. The Institute encourages and assists in the publication and distribution of its research findings and is also involved in the doctoral education at the Stockholm School of Economics. EFI selects its projects based on the need for theoretical or practical development of a research domain, on methodological interests, and on the generality of a problem.

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  • Managing Complex Product Development - Three Approaches

    Niclas Adler


  • To Purnilla

  • A Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D. Stockholm School ofEconomics 1999

    ©EFI and the author ISBN NR 91-7258-524-2


    Product Development Project Management Organizational Design Organizational Performance Organizational Learning Complexity Ericsson Table-tennis Research

    Distributed by: EFI, Stockholm School ofEconomics Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden


    This report is a result of a research project carried out at the Economic Research Institute at the Stockholm School of Economics. The research project has been perfonned within the FENIX research program that has been carried out in co-operation between the Economic Research Institute, Chalmers University of Technology, AstraZeneca, Ericsson, Telia, Volvo and with substantial support from the KK-Foundation.

    This volume is submitted as a doctor's thesis at the Stockholm School of Economics. As usual at the Economic Research Institute, the author has been entirely free to conduct and present his research in his own ways as an expression of his own ideas.

    The institute is grateful for the financial support that has made this research possible.

    Bo Sellstedt Director of the Economic Research Institute at the Stockholm School of Econonlics

    Bengt Stymne Professor Stockholm School of Economics


    Businesses of today are complex, and the purpose of this thesis is not to

    emphasize once again that it is a complex world out there. The purpose is

    rather to analyze how new approaches to manage this complexity have

    been applied to perform complex product development. My aim is not

    only to provide illustrations and possible ways to correct for dysfunctions

    in existing approaches but also to provide experience from the application

    of actual alternatives based on fundamentally different basic assumptions

    and to put this experience into the perspective of emerging business

    conditions. I believe this thesis is important for at least two reasons: (1) by

    introducing and discussing new approaches for managing complex

    product development based on fundamentally different basic assumptions,

    to inspire practitioners and academics to reconsider the way in which this

    increasingly important endeavor is managed and (2) by reflecting upon

    experience in carrying out the research process, to describe a joint journey

    for both researchers and practitioners.

  • 2


    I have great belief in distributed ownership, that is, if many people feel an

    ownership of something, it can be much better than it otherwise would

    have been. The research projects the organizational settings and the

    research environment that made this thesis possible are not a result of my

    own doggedness alone but of the invaluable efforts of a great number of

    people. This thesis would not have been what it is today without their

    continuous enthusiasm, ideas and support. I would first like to thank

    Flemming Norrgren for his way of making research worthwhile and

    ability to make things more fun. I would not have completed this work

    without Flemming. I would also like to thank Bengt Stymne for his

    constant curiosity and openness for new things and for his patience with a

    difficult doctoral student. There are many others who have meant a great

    deal to me in the process of developing as a researcher and in completing

    my thesis. Peter Docherty and Sven-Ake Harte who first recruited and

    introduced me to the research world and later in the process both have

    given valuable comments to different generations of drafts of this

    manuscript. Horst Hart for his valuable support in learning me how to

    perform research in close co-operation with industry and for being one of

    the most non prestigious senior researcher I ever have met. Sofia

    Barjesson, Mats Lundqvist and Claes Tunalv have all been both my

    colleagues and at the same time mentors in different research projects. All

    three also gave their valuable comments on both articles and different

    parts of this manuscript.

    I wrote this thesis during a period in which I had at least three different

    work places. An advantage of having a number of different work places is

    that there are more people who offer their help. My colleagues in the

    search for new knowledge have been many. I would specially like to thank

    Arne Filipsson, Hans Karlsson and Lars Marmgren who all has been both

    practitioners in the organizational settings as well as close colleagues and


  • partners in searching for new knowledge and an increased understanding.

    I would also like to thank Par Mattisson for his inspiring work and for

    reading this manuscript and giving important comn1ents and Bernt

    Ericsson for both inspiring discussions and energy and for on short notice

    giving Ericssons comments on the manuscript. I would also like to thank

    colleagues at PENIX for their patience with me neglecting my duties

    during the writing process. I wish I had had the time to take advantage of

    everyone's knowledge. I would also like especially to thank those who,

    like me, have been "almost done" for a far too long time and who shared

    my frustration over how long this process of being "almost done" can be. I

    would like to thank colleagues at PMO for their support and ideas in spite

    of my long absences, colleagues at CORE for together offering an exciting

    scientific work environment, and last but not least all the hundreds of

    people at Ericsson who have dealt patiently with my questions,

    propositions, models and theories for over five years

    Thanks also go to Janet Vesterlund, who worked under considerable time

    pressure to make the text understandable for more than my Swedish


    This thesis had not been possible to produce without financing and there I

    owe my thanks to a number of important contributors. I would first like to

    name in this context Ericsson, whose continuous financial support was a

    necessity for my work. I would further like to mention the Program for

    learning at Swedish Work Environment Fund (AMFO), the INPRO

    program at the Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical

    Development (NUTEK), the suppo