Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
When sensemaking meets resource allocation: an exploratory study of ambiguous ideas in Project Portfolio Management
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.
2011 (English)In: 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 2011), 2011, 373-382 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research in Project Portfolio Management (PPM) has proposed tools and models for evaluating, selecting and prioritizing ideas and projects in product development. However, empirical evidence indicates that most companies still experience problems when managing their portfolios. PPM literature has mainly focused on evaluation models in which clearly defined ideas are evaluated against predetermined decision criteria. It is considered that this approach is not suitable for ambiguous ideas, where people face difficulties in understanding or classifying an idea. In this article we explore the evaluation of ambiguous ideas in PPM. We found that when people experience ambiguity they take small steps in the further development of an idea for giving to it the clarity that it was lacking before. This process for making sense of the ambiguous situation is conditioned by the resource allocation process which has its own logic and dynamic. We discuss these findings for explaining why some ideas are not evaluated according to the evaluation models proposed in PPM literature; and why the resource allocation process within PPM does not work as management planned it to.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. 373-382 p.
Keyword [en]
Project portfolio management, idea evaluation, ambiguity, product development.
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-77889ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84858822887OAI: diva2:492182
18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 2011), 15 - 18 AUGUST 2011, TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF DENMARK
QC 20120214Available from: 2012-02-14 Created: 2012-02-07 Last updated: 2012-09-18Bibliographically 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

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(171 kB)161 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 171 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links


Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Gutiérrez, Ernesto
By organisation
Integrated Product Development
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 161 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 200 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link