Governing Product Development Projects

The role of minimal structures

Professor Robert Scapens (Manchester Business School, UK)

ISSP Seminar Room, Cairnes Building, NUI Galway 13:00 :: 6th March 2013

In this paper we study the governance of product development projects in which multiple parties with diverse technical knowledge develop a new product and bring it to market. We use a minimal structures framework which consists of economic, institutional, technical and social structures. We investigate how these structures are created and evolve during the product development process and provide the firmness and flexibility necessary to stimulate creativity and at the same time direct the product development process. In addition, we use the concepts of temporal embeddedness and a-temporality drawn from the literature on temporary organisations. The concept of temporal embeddedness refers to the relationships between the parties in past and future product development projects which make the parties’ behaviour more predictable and less uncertain. The concept of a-temporality implies that the parties are fully committed to the product development project at hand. We study two product development projects and observe how the economic and institutional structures set the boundaries for the product development process, while the social structure, together with the technical structure, govern the day-to-day activities of the individuals involved. We also observe that the role for management accounting and management accountants in controlling product development projects is limited.

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