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Managing ambiguity when evaluating and selecting new ideas in Project Portfolio Management
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management (IJITM), ISSN 0219-8770, Vol. 11, no 5, 1450030Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Evaluating and selecting new ideas are central activities in Project Portfolio Management (PPM). PPM dominant approach assumes that both ideas and decision criteria are clearly defined at their evaluation. It does not take into consideration ambiguous situations in which ideas are not fully understood, or there are opposing opinions about their classification. We explore evaluation of ideas when PPM decision makers experience ambiguity. We found that they allow ideas to be developed further, which helps them to understand purposes, reveal benefits and construct judgments. However, it also affects resource allocation because it requires resources that had already been assigned.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 11, no 5, 1450030
Keyword [en]
Project portfolio management, idea evaluation, ambiguity, product development, decision making
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-102494DOI: 10.1142/S0219877014500308ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84929580426OAI: diva2:553193

QC 20151016. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2012-09-18 Created: 2012-09-18 Last updated: 2015-10-16Bibliographically 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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