Date of this Version
IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Research and development (R&D) project selection is a critical interface between the product development strategy of an organization and the process of managing projects day-to-day. This article describes the project selection problem faced by an R&D group of BMW (Munich, Germany). The problem was structured as minimizing the gap between target performance of the technology to be developed and actual performance of the current technology along chosen criteria. A mathematical programming model helped this organization to increase the transparency of their selection process, which previously had been based on experience coupled with evaluation of individual projects in isolation Implementation was a success in that the predevelopment group continues to use the model to make better decisions. However, the organization did not use the model for its intended purpose: constrained optimization. The traditional explanation for this partial implementation is that the analytical model did not capture all considerations relevant to optimization (e.g., uncertainty or strategic fit), and that further model refinements are required to achieve further implementation. We offer an alternative explanation, one based on the technology transfer literature. The diffusion of the analytical model from academia to industry faced the same problems as any technology transfer: Significant tacit knowledge had to be transferred along with the codified knowledge of the analytical model. This required iterated problem solving, which required the limited time and resources of the diffusing agents (academia) as well as the adopting agents (industry). Thus, the organization adopted only those elements of the modeling method that could be transferred within the resource constraints, focusing on those elements offering the highest benefit per effort invested.
© © 2001 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.
Loch, C. H., Christian, M. T., Terwiesch, C., & Urbschat, M. (2001). Selecting R&D Projects at BMW: A Case Study of Adopting Mathematical Programming Models. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 48 (1), 70-80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/17.913167
Date Posted: 27 November 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.