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Exploration and Project Management


  • Sylvain Lenfle

    (CRG - Centre de recherche en gestion - X - École polytechnique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


Project management in academic studies tends to be regarded as an adequate solution to the problems raised by innovation. This paper sets out to question this tendency to equate projects and innovation which, in our view, can lead to the improper use of projects to manage innovation. We argue that, in line with the work on project classification, a distinction should be made between the various types of design situations to which different types of projects are suited. Qualitative research on automotive telematics allows us to identify the management methods suited to the most innovative projects, i.e. exploration projects for which neither technologies nor customer requirements are known at the start of the project. We will show how these situations shake up traditional project management models and will propose five management principles adapted to this new situation.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvain Lenfle, 2008. "Exploration and Project Management," Post-Print hal-00404168, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-00404168
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sylvain Lenfle & Christophe Midler, 2006. "The launch of innovative services : lessons from automotive telematics," Post-Print hal-00263133, HAL.
    2. Andrew H. Van de Ven, 1986. "Central Problems in the Management of Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(5), pages 590-607, May.
    3. Paul S. Adler & David Obstfeld, 2007. "The role of affect in creative projects and exploratory search," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 19-50, February.
    4. Kim B. Clark & W. Bruce Chew & Takahiro Fujimoto, 1987. "Product Development in the World Auto Industry," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3, Specia), pages 729-782.
    5. V. Krishnan & Karl T. Ulrich, 2001. "Product Development Decisions: A Review of the Literature," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 1-21, January.
    6. Van de Ven, Andrew R., 1986. "Central Problems in the Management of Innovation," Agricultural Research Policy Seminar 139708, University of Minnesota Extension.
    7. Billie Jo Zirger & Modesto A. Maidique, 1990. "A Model of New Product Development: An Empirical Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(7), pages 867-883, July.
    8. Isabelle Huault & V. Perret & S. Charreire-Petit, 2007. "Management," Post-Print halshs-00337676, HAL.
    9. Aaron J. Shenhar, 2001. "One Size Does Not Fit All Projects: Exploring Classical Contingency Domains," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(3), pages 394-414, March.
    10. Abernathy, William J. & Clark, Kim B., 1985. "Innovation: Mapping the winds of creative destruction," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 3-22, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Florence Charue-Duboc & Lise Gastaldi & Thomas Paris & Nathalie Raulet-Croset, 2015. "Couplage entre explorations des connaissances scientifiques et des valeurs d’usages : la caractérisation de nouvelles modalités à partir du cas d’une entreprise dans les technologies de la communicati," Post-Print halshs-01306684, HAL.
    2. repec:hal:journl:hal-00824354 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sophie Hooge & Cédric Dalmasso, 2015. "Dynamics of internal R&D stakeholders in the Fuzzy Front-End of breakthrough engineering projects," Post-Print hal-01202541, HAL.
    4. Thomas Gillier & Sophie Hooge & Gérald Piat, 2013. "Framing the scope of value in exploratory projects: An expansive value management model," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00824354, HAL.
    5. Sylvain Lenfle, 2011. "The strategy of parallel approaches in projects with unforeseeable uncertainty: the Manhattan case in retrospect," Post-Print hal-00658346, HAL.
    6. repec:hal:gemwpa:hal-00824354 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Sylvain Lenfle, 2017. "Projects, Agency and the Multi-Level Perspective," Post-Print hal-01574741, HAL.
    8. Thomas Gillier & Gérald Piat & Benoît Roussel & Patrick Truchot, 2009. "Portfolio Management Of Innovation Fields : Applying Ck Design Theory In Cross Industry Exploratory Partnership," Post-Print hal-00416790, HAL.
    9. Mario Le Glatin & Pascal Le Masson & Benoit Weil, 2017. "Generative action and preference reversal in exploratory project management," Post-Print hal-01674309, HAL.
    10. Fabien Jean & Pascal Le Masson & Benoit Weil, 2015. "Engage engineers as designers to generate new meanings in concept generation," Post-Print hal-01148387, HAL.
    11. Sylvain Lenfle & Christophe Midler, 2010. "Innovation in Product-Related Services: The Contribution of Design Theory," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Innovation and Services, chapter 30 Edward Elgar Publishing.


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