The development and application of a process model for R&D project management in a high tech firm: A field study

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In R&D organizations of high tech firms, multiple R&D projects are executed concurrently and timeliness of project completion - i.e., developing the right products at the right times - is a matter of serious concern. Given that the priority of R&D projects and the interdependencies between the projects in a high tech firm change dynamically, high tech R&D project management is a complex and challenging endeavor. To improve the understanding and management of high tech R&D projects, this paper reports the findings of a field study where we, first, develop and empirically estimate a model that relates project priority over time with the generative mechanisms of market pull and technical challenge associated with R&D projects. Next, we develop and demonstrate the application of a process model within which the time-varying project priority model is embedded. The process model makes it possible to allocate fixed resources among competing projects with time-varying interdependencies, thereby improving the timeliness of project completion. This research was conducted in collaboration with a major U.S. high tech firm. The corporate R&D center of the firm served as the research setting for the field study. We present an application of the process model to delineate the evolution of the R&D organization with the merger of its (technology driven) parent firm with another (market driven) high tech manufacturing firm. The application of the process model generates theoretical insights that are used to develop testable propositions. Implications of the study findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-476
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation and a grant from the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, University of Minnesota. The authors are thankful to Ulrich Bonne, Norm Foss, Jim Lenz, Arvind Padmanabhan and Andrew Wood for their assistance with the data collection for this study. The authors gratefully acknowledge Christoph Loch, an anonymous reviewer, the Associate Editor and the Special Issue Editors for their insightful and constructive comments on earlier versions of this paper. Any errors are the responsibility of the authors.


  • Field study
  • High tech firm
  • Portfolio management
  • Process model
  • Product development
  • Project management


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