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Dealing with legitimacy: A key challenge for Project Portfolio Management decision makers
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6024-7908
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Project Management, ISSN 0263-7863, Vol. 32, no 1, 30-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has considered combining different decision-making approaches to be critical to achieve flexibility in Project Portfolio Management (PPM). Lacking flexibility, i.e., making decisions only by rational and formal approaches, might lead to a deficient balance between different types of ideas and projects, and this may lead to innovation opportunities being missed. However, the challenges that decision makers might face in achieving that flexibility have not been investigated thoroughly. In an interview study of three industrial companies, we explored how different decision-making approaches are combined in PPM. We found that rational and formal decision-making processes are experienced as more legitimate than informal and non-rational ones. Decision makers deal with legitimacy by certain mechanisms that allow them to bypass high accepted approaches and legitimizing decisions made by low accepted ones. We discuss how these mechanisms, while contributing to achieving flexibility, might also cause a bias in decisions and destabilization in resource allocation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 32, no 1, 30-39 p.
Keyword [en]
Project portfolio management, legitimacy, flexibility, decision making
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102491DOI: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2013.01.002ISI: 000328712100004ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84887249245OAI: diva2:553189

QC 20140122. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2012-09-18 Created: 2012-09-18 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Evaluation and selection of ideas and projects in product development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluation and selection of ideas and projects in product development
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Product development has become an important competitive factor for most companies. A central task is to select which projects, often from a large number of project proposals, are to be developed in order to achieve strategic objectives without exceeding available resources. Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is the research discipline which focuses on the decision-making processes used to evaluate, select and prioritise projects. Previous research has stated that companies must be able to select and commit resources to different types of ideas and projects. However, it is widely believed that PPM literature has not sufficiently investigated the challenges that companies might face when putting into practice different decision-making approaches to select different types of ideas and projects.

This thesis aims to explore how different types of ideas and projects are evaluated and selected in the context of the development of complex technological products. It is based on a qualitative research approach and interviews and observations have been carried out with the cooperation of six companies.

The findings of this thesis reveal that because different decision-making approaches encounter different levels of acceptance within an organisation, the dynamics by which an idea evolves are affected by the way in which decision makers deal with the legitimacy of the decision-making approaches that they put into practice. Decision makers use some mechanisms that allow them to avoid drawing exclusively on the highly accepted approaches when they are not considered to be suitable, and to give legitimacy to the decisions that have been made by the less accepted approaches. In addition, the way in which decision makers experience a decision situation influences how it is approached. If they experience ambiguity, they might display a decision-making logic in which actions are allowed to be taken within self-organised social interactions, in order to make sense of the idea, project or criteria. However, the occurrence of self-organised interactions is conditioned by how decision makers negotiate resources with stakeholders that display different interests and decision-making logics.

These findings question the objective view that assumes that ideas and projects are already defined at the moment the decision is made and are able to be classified in pre-defined categories. It also led to the question of whether problems in fulfilling resource allocation plans and the risk of biases in decision making are problems that arise due to poor decision-making practices, and whether they should, instead, be understood as probable consequences of a flexible process.

Finally, this thesis explores a way of enhancing decision makers’ abilities through scenarios in which decision makers experience decision situations and reflect on their own ways of making decisions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. 85 p.
Trita-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2012:15
decision making, product development, project evalaution, project portfolio management, project selection
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102388 (URN)978-91-7501-453-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-09-28, Sal Gladan, Brinellvägen 85, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

QC 20120918

Available from: 2012-09-18 Created: 2012-09-14 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically approved

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