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Parallel Strategies in Development Projects

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Author Info

  • William J. Abernathy

    (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University)

  • Richard S. Rosenbloom

    (Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University)

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    Abstract

    It is common in R & D to identify and explore several approaches to a particular objective so that the best approach may be chosen. The outcome of any approach is uncertain; hence, it is difficult to choose the best one at an early date. To deal with this uncertainty, two or more approaches to the objective may be continued in parallel until a clear choice can be made, i.e., a parallel strategy. Such a strategy can provide better information for a decision, maintain options, or hedge against the occurrence of an unsatisfactory outcome. This report addresses the project manager's problem of deciding when to use or continue a parallel strategy. It reports the results of studies of actual projects and of a digital simulation analysis of a model appropriate to the structure of the decision as it is faced in practice. It identifies the information requirements for a sound choice between parallel and sequential strategies and the consequence of choosing a strategy on the basis of incomplete information. The report demonstrates the feasibility of collecting the requisite economic data in actual projects and suggests that it is costly for project managers to ignore such data.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.15.10.B486
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 15 (1969)
    Issue (Month): 10 (June)
    Pages: B486-B505

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:15:y:1969:i:10:p:b486-b505

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    Cited by:
    1. Lee, Hsing-fen & Miozzo, Marcela & Laredo, Philippe, 2010. "Career patterns and competences of PhDs in science and engineering in the knowledge economy: The case of graduates from a UK research-based university," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 869-881, September.
    2. Scherer, Frederic Michael, 2011. "Parallel R&D Paths Revisited," Scholarly Articles 5027951, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Sylvain Lenfle, 2011. "The strategy of parallel approaches in projects with unforeseeable uncertainty: the Manhattan case in retrospect," Post-Print hal-00658346, HAL.
    4. Comanor, William S. & Scherer, F.M., 2013. "Mergers and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 106-113.

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