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Organizing boundaries in early phases of product development: The case of an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation concerns the development of a new interorganizational vehicle platform in the truck industry. The studied project setting was large, and can be referred to as a mega project. I ask the question How are boundaries organized in an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting, and how can we understand the tensions which arise when such organizing is performed? I assume that tensions arise in relation to questions concerning novelty, interdependencies, and differences.  Tensions should therefore not be seen as something bad, tensions are rather a prerequisite for achieving change.


The overall aim is to create insights in how boundaries in an interorganizational platform project setting are organized between: projects and governing actors, projects and permanent organizations, projects and external organizations, projects and projects, and finally inside projects (between different functions).  A secondary aim is to understand the roles which actors, activities and objects play, and the tensions which are experienced, when boundaries are being challenged and organized.


The study was performed during the concept phase, and a practice approach was used in order to capture the inner life of projects. A project setting with three projects was studied for three months, where I performed 68 interviews and observed 32 meetings. I have used a mix of narrative and alternate templates strategies and induced themes which constitute the base for the analysis.


I assume that boundaries are socially constructed and I argue that traditional normative findings in project management studies should be complemented with findings from organizational theory, and therefore use a multidisciplinary theoretical base. I have combined theories relating to; boundary construction, projects, boundary actors, activities, objects, and coordination/integration.


My analysis consists of two parts, in the first part I analyze value-, mandate-, and structural tensions and finds that actors in the setting; organize a commonality balancing area where decisions are affected by a mandates filter and need to be understood in relation to a coopetitive tensions model. In the second part of the analysis I have found that actors in the setting balance tensions and organize boundaries by performing four major Quality improvement loops based on a fragmented value base where boundary activities should be seen as having three dimensions; administrative, sharing, and political.


The creation of the shared platform is simultaneously affected by strategic, operational, and functional efforts.  This fact in combination with the size and uniqueness of the project setting, leads to the insight that technological innovation must be accompanied by organizational innovation. Therefore I have suggested that organizing of boundaries in interorganizational vehicle project settings should be understood as being performed through Concurrent Boundary Enactment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet , 2010. , 300 p.
Studier i företagsekonomi. Serie B, ISSN 0346-8291 ; 72
Keyword [en]
organizing, projects, boundaries, boundary-actors, activities, objects, tensions
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-34352ISBN: 978-91-7459-032-6OAI: diva2:320787
Public defence
2010-09-03, Samhällsvetarhuset, Hörsal B, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2010-05-28 Created: 2010-05-27 Last updated: 2010-05-28Bibliographically approved

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