Managing R&D Processes - Focusing on Technology Development, Product Development, and their Interplay
This thesis concerns management of research and development (R&D) processes, with an emphasis on technology development and product development and their interplay. The aim is to assist companies in leveraging their R&D efforts and to improve the understanding of R&D management. Organizations' capability to develop and integrate new technologies into commercialized products by using effective and repeatable processes plays a key role for competitiveness.
Recent research has noted that the contracted term 'R&D' might, without care, beguile us into disregarding the inherent differences between aspects such as technology development and product development. While similar in some ways to the management of product development, technology development differs in its prerequisites, technical maturity, time horizon, need for competence, process repeatability, and completion point. These differences, entailing specific managerial issues and approaches, are taken account of in this thesis. Further, particular attention is given to the interplay of the two processes, an interplay that can either hinder R&D efforts or spur them to new heights.
The chosen research path has been characterized by a practice-centered abductive design, building on studies related to knowledge transfer and technology integration, project management approaches, and organizational forms of R&D. A variety of methods has been used, ranging from company-wide surveys and in-depth case studies to development of hands-on project management techniques and tools. The research has been managerially oriented, conducted longitudinally and in close contact with foremost three companies (Ericsson Mobile Communications, Volvo Truck Corporation, and United Barcode Industries).
The research findings belong mainly to two areas. One is the management of internal organizational interfaces, a crucial issue when commercializing new technology. Here, barriers and integration mechanisms have been analyzed, illustrated and explored. The other is management of technology development and product development scope, an issue of long-term strategic importance as well as vital for achieving timely deliveries. Within this area, a visual R&D content tool has been developed and tested, targeting R&D managers who work actively with the scope of projects and the related strategic implications throughout R&D execution.
research and development