The Value of a 'Failed' R&D Project: An Emerging Evaluation Framework for Building Innovative Capabilities

17 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2009

See all articles by Maria Elmquist

Maria Elmquist

Chalmers University of Technology - Project Management

Pascal Le Masson

École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris - Centre de Gestion Scientifique (CGS)

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 Régie 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.

Suggested Citation

Elmquist, Maria and Le Masson, Pascal, The Value of a 'Failed' R&D Project: An Emerging Evaluation Framework for Building Innovative Capabilities. R&D Management, Vol. 39, Issue 2, pp. 136-152, March 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1395153 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2009.00546.x

Maria Elmquist (Contact Author)

Chalmers University of Technology - Project Management ( email )

SE-412 96 Goteborg
Sweden

Pascal Le Masson

École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris - Centre de Gestion Scientifique (CGS) ( email )

60, boulevard Saint-Michel
Paris Cedex 06, 75272
France
+01 40 51 92 21 (Phone)

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