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Identifying Controlling Features of Engineering Design Iteration


  • Robert P. Smith

    (University of Washington, Industrial Engineering, Seattle, Washington 98195)

  • Steven D. Eppinger

    (MIT Sloan School of Management, E53-347, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139)


Engineering design often involves a very complex set of relationships among a large number of coupled problems. It is this complex coupling that leads to iteration among the various engineering tasks in a large project. The design structure matrix (DSM) is useful in identifying where iteration is necessary. The work transformation matrix model developed in this paper is a powerful extension of the DSM method which can predict slow and rapid convergence of iteration within a project, and predict those coupled features of the design problem which will require many iterations to reach a technical solution. This model is applied to an automotive brake-system development process in order to illustrate the model's utility in describing the main features of an actual design process.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert P. Smith & Steven D. Eppinger, 1997. "Identifying Controlling Features of Engineering Design Iteration," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(3), pages 276-293, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:43:y:1997:i:3:p:276-293

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    Cited by:

    1. Jürgen Mihm & Christoph Loch & Arnd Huchzermeier, 2003. "Problem--Solving Oscillations in Complex Engineering Projects," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(6), pages 733-750, June.
    2. Whitney, Daniel & Eppinger, Steven D. & Yassine, Ali & Joglekar, Nitin & Braha, Dan, 2002. "Information Hiding in Product Development: The Design Churn Effect," Working papers 4333-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    3. V. Krishnan & Karl T. Ulrich, 2001. "Product Development Decisions: A Review of the Literature," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 1-21, January.
    4. Manuel E. Sosa & Steven D. Eppinger & Craig M. Rowles, 2004. "The Misalignment of Product Architecture and Organizational Structure in Complex Product Development," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(12), pages 1674-1689, December.
    5. Anderson, Shannon W. & Glenn, David & Sedatole, Karen L., 2000. "Sourcing parts of complex products: evidence on transactions costs, high-powered incentives and ex-post opportunism," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(8), pages 723-749, November.
    6. Sosa, Manuel E., 2003. "Factors that influence technical communication in distributed product development : an empirical study in the telecommunications industry," Working papers WP 4123-00., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    7. Victoria L. Mitchell & Barrie R. Nault, 2007. "Cooperative Planning, Uncertainty, and Managerial Control in Concurrent Design," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(3), pages 375-389, March.
    8. Shekhar Jayanthi & Aleda V. Roth & Mehmet M. Kristal & Lauren Carter-Roth Venu, 2009. "Strategic Resource Dynamics of Manufacturing Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(6), pages 1060-1076, June.
    9. repec:spr:grdene:v:19:y:2010:i:2:d:10.1007_s10726-008-9129-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ford, David N. & Sterman, John., 1997. "Expert knowledge elicitation to improve mental and formal models," Working papers WP 3953-97., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    11. Lin, Jun & Chai, Kah Hin & Wong, Yoke San & Brombacher, Aarnout C., 2008. "A dynamic model for managing overlapped iterative product development," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 185(1), pages 378-392, February.
    12. Krishnan, Viswanathan, 1998. "Modeling ordered decision making in product development," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 111(2), pages 351-368, December.
    13. To, Chester K.M. & Fung, Hon-Kwok & Harwood, Raymond J. & Ho, K.C., 2009. "Coordinating dispersed product development processes: A contingency perspective of project design and modelling," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 570-584, August.
    14. Bhattacharya, Shantanu & Krishnan, V. & Mahajan, Vijay, 2003. "Operationalizing technology improvements in product development decision-making," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 149(1), pages 102-130, August.
    15. Nitindra R. Joglekar & Ali A. Yassine & Steven D. Eppinger & Daniel E. Whitney, 2001. "Performance of Coupled Product Development Activities with a Deadline," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(12), pages 1605-1620, December.
    16. Ahmadi, Reza & Roemer, Thomas A. & Wang, Robert H., 2001. "Structuring product development processes," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 130(3), pages 539-558, May.
    17. Brian T. Pentland, 2003. "Conceptualizing and Measuring Variety in the Execution of Organizational Work Processes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(7), pages 857-870, July.
    18. Nelson, Richard Graham & Azaron, Amir & Aref, Samin, 2016. "The use of a GERT based method to model concurrent product development processes," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 250(2), pages 566-578.
    19. Joglekar, Nitin R. & Ford, David N., 2005. "Product development resource allocation with foresight," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 160(1), pages 72-87, January.
    20. Paulo J. Gomes & Nitin R. Joglekar, 2008. "Linking modularity with problem solving and coordination efforts," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(5), pages 443-457.
    21. Bordley, Robert F. & Pollock, Stephen M., 2012. "Assigning resources and targets to an organization’s activities," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 220(3), pages 752-761.
    22. Ashish Arora & Michelle Gittelman & Sarah Kaplan & John Lynch & Will Mitchell & Nicolaj Siggelkow & Chi-Hyon Lee & Manuela N. Hoehn-Weiss & Samina Karim, 2016. "Grouping interdependent tasks: Using spectral graph partitioning to study complex systems," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 177-191, January.


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