Governing Product Co-Development Projects: The Role of Minimal Structures

Posted: 26 Jul 2015

See all articles by Jeltje van der Meer-Kooistra

Jeltje van der Meer-Kooistra

University of Groningen - Faculty of Economics and Business

Robert William Scapens

Alliance Manchester Business School

Date Written: May 10, 2015

Abstract

In this paper we study the governance of product development projects in which multiple parties with diverse technical knowledge together co-develop new products and bring them to market. We use a minimal structures framework which consists of economic, institutional, social and technical structures. We investigate how these structures provide the firmness and flexibility needed to stimulate creativity and, at the same time, coordinate the various parties who are contributing to the product co-development project. In addition, we use the concepts of temporal embeddedness and a-temporality drawn from the literature on temporary organisations. In a case study of product co-development we observe that, while the social and technical structures govern the day-to-day product development activities, the economic and institutional structures provide the context for the project and also govern the relationships between the collaborating organisations. Although management accounting and management accountants are not directly involved in the day-to-day management of the product development process, accounting-based information is used to set the boundaries for the project. We discuss how these boundaries can provide both the firmness and the flexibility needed to promote the creativity and innovation which are needed in new product co-development projects. We suggest that these boundaries can be either broad or narrow and either permeable or impermeable, thereby creating different forms of flexibility.

Keywords: Governance; product co-development; lateral relationships; minimal structures; firmness and flexibility; temporal embeddedness; a-temporality

JEL Classification: M4

Suggested Citation

van der Meer-Kooistra, Jeltje and Scapens, Robert William, Governing Product Co-Development Projects: The Role of Minimal Structures (May 10, 2015). Management Accounting Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2635624

Jeltje Van der Meer-Kooistra

University of Groningen - Faculty of Economics and Business ( email )

9700 AV Groningen
Netherlands
+31 50 363 3829 (Phone)
+31 50 363 7356 (Fax)

Robert William Scapens (Contact Author)

Alliance Manchester Business School ( email )

Booth Street West
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

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