The value of a ‘failed’ R&D project: an emerging evaluation framework for building innovative capabilities

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Abstract:

In literature and R&D organizations alike, project success consists in minimizing the deviations from set targets in terms of quality, cost and time. The main management task is to execute and monitor progress to reduce risks – assuming that project attributes are known, necessary resources can be estimated and a reasonable time table can be agreed upon. In such a context, evaluating project success is easy. However, in an innovative context, setting project targets initially is difficult and the contributions of the projects sometimes are of an unexpected nature. This paper investigates if projects can be evaluated in terms of how they contribute to the building of innovative capabilities of the firm instead of independently. Based on a case study at the RĂ©gie Autonome des Transports Parisians and the theoretical framework of innovation fields, a framework for evaluating projects from an additional perspective is proposed. Based on the following four criteria: financial resources, the development of a structured, refined and expanded strategic vision, developed competences (with related suppliers) and identification of knowledge gaps (occasionally with related partners for knowledge production), this framework shows how seemingly failed R&D projects can instead be considered as invaluable to the overall innovation process.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2009.00546.x

Affiliations: 1: Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, 412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden., Email: maria.elmquist@chalmers.se 2: MINES ParisTech, Centre de Gestion Scientifique, 60 Boulevard Saint Michel, 75272 Paris cedex 06, France., Email: lemasson@ensmp.fr

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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