Managing R&D Project Shifts in High-Tech Organizations: A Multi-Method Study
High-tech organizations maintain a portfolio of R&D projects that address problems with different levels of complexity. These projects use different strategies to search for technological solutions. Projects refining existing products, processes, and technologies, for instance, employ a local search strategy to improve performance, while projects developing new products, processes, and technologies employ a distant search strategy. However, projects can shift in their levels of complexity due to exogenous technological changes, and failure to change search strategy in turn can negatively impact project performance. This study first develops grounded theory via case studies to understand how high-tech organizations manage R&D projects when complexity shifts. The case data come from 142 informants in 12 R&D projects at three high-tech business units. A cross-case comparison shows that three interconnected mechanisms positioned at multiple levels within the organization enable high-tech organizations to identify such shifts and adjust the project's search. We refer to this strategy as responsive search.
Chandrasekaran, A., Linderman, K., Sting, F., & Benner, M. (2016). Managing R&D Project Shifts in High-Tech Organizations: A Multi-Method Study. Production and Operations Management Volume 25, Issue 3, S. 390-416.
Accelerating Projects by Encouraging Help
This article examines the difficulties of project planning and execution and describes a management innovation at Roto Frank, a German company that produces hardware for industrial and residential windows and doors. Roto, headquartered in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, has augmented its project control system with a formal help process that encourages workers to seek and provide mutual assistance. We found that Roto's help process achieved a measurable improvement in project cycle time without changing formal incentives or other management systems. The initiative's success is based largely on two factors: establishing psychological safety, and encouraging cooperative behavior by emphasizing interdependence among workers. Because of its flexibility, we argue that this help process has the potential to accelerate projects in many environments.