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  • 1.
    Burström, Thommie
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
    Organisering av utvecklingsprojekt: praktik, dynamik och gränssnitt2006Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Denna studie fokuserar på att besvara frågan hur gränser organiseras när flera olika organisationer samverkar för att skapa nya teknologiska innovationer.  Syftet med denna studie är att ur ett praktikorienterat perspektiv skapa en förståelse för hur intra- och interorganisatoriska gränser organiseras vid tidiga utvecklingsprojekt inom lastbilsindustrin. Särskild vikt läggs vid att genom studien förstå organiserande processer som omfattar utvecklingsprojekts uppstart och genomförande, samt de roller aktörer, aktiviteter och objekt spelar i dessa processer.

     

    Studien har en huvudsakligen induktiv ansats där intervjuer och observationer har legat till grund för informationsinsamlingen. I centrum för studien ligger ett utvecklingsprojekt på Volvo lastvagnar i Göteborg. Projektet kallas för SWEP (Smart Wheel End Project) och genomförs i samverkan med en navleverantör, bromsleverantör och däckleverantör. Projektet har som mål att skapa en bättre trafiksäkerhet med stöd av bland annat bättre bromsförmåga på tunga lastbilar. Studien belyser den interorganisatoriska utvecklingsprocessen från den tid då aktörerna fått en idé om att skapa SWEP till dess att de nått ett slutskede av kontraktsskrivningen.

     

    De teorier som ligger till grund för analysen utgår från ett praktikorienterat perspektiv där gränser, aktörer, aktiviteter, objekt samt legitimitet tillsammans möjliggör en analys av organisering av interorganisatoriska utvecklingsprojekt. Resultatet visar på att organisering av interorganisatoriska utvecklingsprojekt sker genom vad som i denna studie benämns gränsiterativ organisering. Gränsiterativ organisering förklaras genom processer, gränssnitt och överlappande praktiker. Processerna beskrivs som: gränsutmanande, gränsförtydligande och gränskomprimerande. Processerna har i början av ett utvecklingsprojekt en sekventiell karaktär men de övergår tidigt till att löpa parallellt. Processernas innehåll förklaras i sin tur genom fem aspekter: fokus, aktivitetsnät, aktörsdynamik, objekt och legitimitet.

     

    Fokus i de olika processerna varierar mellan visualisering (påvisa möjlig produktutveckling för andra), formalisering (legitimera projektet inom större del av organisationen) och konkretisering (uppfylla givna löften och hålla samman projektet). Aktivitetsnätet består i sin tur av olika typer av aktiviteter, svarta (lagliga organiserande aktiviteter som sker utan organisationens kännedom,), grå (organisationen känner till att aktiviteterna genomförs men inte hur eller med vem), vita (formella synliggjorda aktiviteter). Aktivitetsnätet hjälper oss att förstå hur aktiviteterna hänger samman och ger därför insikt i ett större sammanhang. Aktörsdynamik innebär att aktörer har olika roller vid olika tillfällen som till exempel marknadsförare när de söker idéer till ny produktutveckling, därefter som förhandlare för att slutligen agera som cadministratörer när ledarskap, CAD och relationer skall integreras i ett nytt utvecklingsprojekt. Objekt kan delas in i teknologiska och administrativa objekt. Teknologiska objekt hjälper aktörerna att utveckla kunskaper om tekniskt konstruktion, medan administrativa objekt stödjer aktörerna i utvecklingen av relationer och processer mellan och inom organisationer. I utvecklingsprocessens uppstartsfas har objekten en roll som idébärare, därefter som symboler för samverkan och slutligen har de en roll som sammanbindande länkar vilka förtätar gränserna mellan samverkande organisationer.

     

    Vidare förtydligas gränsiterativ organisering genom att de tre gränsorganiserande processernas olika aspekter påverkas av en bas som utgår från fyra olika typer av gränssnitt (mentala, sociala, fysiska, virtuella) som berör både intra- och interorganisatorisk organisering. Slutligen sker gränsiterativ organisering genom överlappande praktiker där experter från olika yrkesområden möts och kompletterar varandras kunskaper i olika praktiska situationer. 

  • 2.
    Burström, Thommie
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
    Organizing boundaries in early phases of product development: The case of an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting2011In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 4, no 4, p. 697-710Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and to summarize a PhD thesis that contributes to the understanding of how boundaries are organized in early phases of new product development. The thesis explores the reality of project member's attempts to create a shared vehicle platform. The author also reports his PhD “journey”.

    Design/methodology/approach – Research reported here is based on a qualitative study through combinations of interviews, observations, and document studies. Data were gathered during three months at two different sites in two different countries. A practice approach was implemented where the daily work activities of project members were studied.

    Findings – It was concluded that organizing of boundaries should be understood as being affected by tensions and characterized by iterations that cross all types of organizational boundaries. The theory of Concurrent Boundary Enactment is therefore proposed as an answer to how the organizing of boundaries should be understood.

    Research limitations/implications – The study shows how project members in parallel organize technologies, structural units, and work processes. Thus, the study focuses on the complexity of organizing boundaries. There is a need to perform more of this type of practice-based, high complexity studies so that more profound organizing patterns can be understood.

    Practical implications – Actors in projects are closely attached to brands' core values. This core value attachment should be seen as both at strength and a weakness. It is seen as strength because core value attachment calls for compassion and dedication. It is seen as weakness since this type of attachment also makes it difficult to create synergies between brands. Therefore, brand managers should try to find least common nominators that bring together dispersed brand value statements.

    Originality/value – By studying multiple boundaries between functions, projects, projects and the permanent organization, projects and steering committees, projects and external organizations, it has been possible to illustrate the everyday complexity which follows by creating a shared vehicle platform between two organizations that compete and collaborate at the same time. Earlier research studies usually only concern one of the boundaries.

  • 3.
    Burström, Thommie
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
    Organizing boundaries in early phases of product development: The case of an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting2010Doctoral 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.

  • 4.
    Burström, Thommie
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE).
    Understanding PMs’ activities in a coopetitive interorganizationalmulti-project setting2012In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 27-50Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand the character of activities performed by projectmanagers (PMs) in the early phases of product development in an interorganizational, multi-projectsetting. The aim is to contribute to the extant literature on boundary work in projects by providing atypology of boundary activities and by presenting a conceptual model in which the relationshipbetween these boundary activities is established.

    Design/methodology/approach – This study is based on an explorative, in-depth case study of amulti-project setting where PMs assigned to three projects developed new products whilesimultaneously competing and collaborating. Each project’s concept phase was followed byparticipative observations and ongoing interviews over a 15-week period at two sites and in twocountries.Findings – It is understood that PMs in organizations collaborate and perform balancing activities.These balancing activities are part of a refinement process, which is created through three intertwineddimensions of boundary activities: administrative, sharing, and tuning. These, in turn, are constructedthrough complementary micro activities. These micro activities are politically colored and do notnecessarily follow a prescribed and orderly path; instead, they are situation contingent and iterative in their character.

    Research limitations/implications – The character of boundary activities in coopetitive projectsettings should be further studied to better understand the early phases of product development.Practical implications – The political dimension of product development activities in the earlyphases of product development should be acknowledged. By acknowledging the presence of politics,PMs will be more prepared to deal with the complexity and ambiguity that follows when trying tocollaborate and compete simultaneously.

    Originality/value – This paper takes a practice perspective and focuses on what people do ininterorganizational new product development in situations characterised by coopetition.

  • 5.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Blomquist, Tomas
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Time managers in a platform project2014In: Advancing research on projects and temporary organizations / [ed] Lundin, R & Hällgren, M, Koege: Copenhagen Business School Press , 2014, p. 71-90Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Jacobsson, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    The Informal Liaison Role of Project Controllers in New Product Development Projects2013In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 6, no 3, p. 410-424Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the liaison role of project controllers in new product development (NPD) projects.

    Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on a case study of an industrial new product development project. In total, 68 in-depth interviews were conducted and 32 meetings were observed. Using an inductive approach, this paper scrutinizes the roles of three specific individuals – their formal role as project controllers and their informal role as liaisons.

    Findings – The study found that project controllers play a crucial part in the everyday work of projects – both formally and informally. Project controllers undertake important liaison activities that are not a part of their formal roles in which they extend their responsibilities to include informal activities such as peacekeeping, probing, nailing, process implementation and streamlining.

    Practical implications – This paper argues that managers must identify and acknowledge the importance of informal liaisons and liaison activities among project members because such activities are of crucial importance for the facilitation of communication and for work-flow coordination. By viewing the project controller as someone who is “dressing the project in numbers”, the role can be understood as a support function aimed at close interaction and cross-functional learning, rather than a function aimed at distant supervision and control.

    Originality/value – This paper provides important insights into informal aspects of project roles and the everyday work of project controllers.

  • 7.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
    Jacobsson, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business.
    The role and importance of `Glue People' in projects2011In: The IUP Journal of Soft Skills, ISSN 0973-8479, Vol. V, no 1, p. 7-15Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Almost 40 years ago the importance of liaison roles was pointed out. The liaison role, which is described as managerial means to achieve coordination amongst different knowledge domains by facilitating communication, has been a subject of extensive interest during the years. Most of this interest has either focused on (1) the liaison position with no decisional authority, formal power, but is formally established, or (2) the integrating manager which is a formal position with recognized formal authority. This paper aims at highlighting the importance of liaisons, or`glue people', in projects. Based on a theoretical underpinning of projects as temporary organizations this paper analyses hands-on project work. The analysis is based on two comprehensive in-depth qualitative case studies, one in the construction industry and the other in the truck industry. Both of these cases focus on the actual everyday work of the project participants. In this paper we argue that `glue people' possess specific soft skills such as: the ability to facilitate communication among professional groups, create commitment, and reduce uncertainty. These are all important skills in order to handle the everyday complexity and manage the interdependent sets of diverse skills and knowledge domains present in temporary organizations. The paper concludes that `glue people' share some characteristics of formal liaisons and integrating managers, but that new novel explanations for understanding `glue people' are necessary.

  • 8.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Jacobsson, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Transition processes in an interorganizational platform project2012In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 5, no 3, p. 400-419Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify and understand challenges related to transition processes that occur between projects and the permanent organisation, as well as the outcome of such processes.

    Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on an explorative, in-depth case study of a multi-project setting. The concept phase of three projects was followed by participative observations and ongoing interviews over a fifteen week period at two sites and in two countries. The empirical material was analyzed through a process-orientated approach focusing on daily project activities.

    Findings: Transition processes are characterized by containing operational complexities. These operational complexities demand from project stakeholders to perform multiple translational and transformative activities. The outcome from these activities are for example strategic, operational, and functional fine-tuning, but also attitudinal turnaround.  

    Research limitations/implications: This research is based on an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting. The findings from this study can therefore not with ease be generalized to other settings. However, it is likely that actors in other interorganizational project settings can benefit from the findings since there probably are a multitude of transition processes in such projects as well.

    Practical implications: Managers can learn that it is important to map all related transition processes, analyze the implications that these processes have on the project, and perform a dialog with project members so that the sense of operational complexity and uncertainty can be reduced. This type of action will reduce feelings of frustration and create a sense of readiness to deal with unexpected events.

    Originality/value: First the setting “an interorganizational vehicle platform” is largely understudied, second this paper pinpoints three unique transition processes and thereby contributes to the sparsely researched area of transition processes.

  • 9.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland.
    Jacobsson, Mattias
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Wilson, Timothy L.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Integrating service practice into project management: a matter of “do or die”?2014In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 7, no 1, p. 5-22Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze service management practices within a project management context.

    Design/methodology/approach: This research supporting conceptual developments was both exploratory and qualitative in nature and utilized an in-depth case study of a major product development project.

    Findings: The conceptual framework developed is applied to empirical observations of product development project. Because there is an adequate fit with observations, elements of a service management approach appear to be viable in the description, managing, and control of projects.

    Research limitations/implications: Because the research was built on a case study, one has the limitations common with that approach. Conversely, case studies are acknowledged as useful in the identification of important variables in situations in which there is little control over events in a real-world context.

    Practical implications: Customer satisfaction is a requirement of project organizations, which is an inherent requisite of any service organization. Consequently, one turns to those elements in the practice of service management that lead to best management practices.

    Originality/value: This paper contributes with a practice-based understanding of how project management is based on integrated service practice.

  • 10.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration. Hanken School of Economics.
    Wilson, Timothy
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Fuzzy projects: a qualitative investigation of project leaders’ role2015In: International Journal of Project Organisation and Management, ISSN 1740-2891, E-ISSN 1740-2905, Vol. 7, no 3, p. 221-235Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Through an in-depth case study this paper explores the role that chief project managers (CPMs) take in transformative, coopetitive fuzzy projects during the concept phase.  Service management concepts, primarily SERVQUAL and triangular communication, are combined with a project management background to illustrate the role these key individuals play in conducting complex projects.  A setting with three interrelated projects was studied, where the products in focus had a high degree of novelty.  This setting demanded that all actors in the project needed to find new ways of working, and previous organizational values were challenged.  A combination of interviews, observations and secondary data provided a holistic view of the different activities under study. It was found that in order to bring clarity into fuzziness CPMs spend a substantial amount of time on people issues. The role of the CPM in fuzzy projects therefore tends to be defined as a service leadership role in which soft skills are important.

  • 11.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland.
    Wilson, Timothy
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Requirement managers’ roles in industrial, platform development2014In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 7, no 4, p. 493-517Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose

    To describe and analyze the role of requirement managers in new product development (NPD) projects.

     

    Method

    This paper is based on a case study of an industrial platform project. Sixty-eight persons were interviewed and project prerequisites and requirement specifications documents were studied. The roles of specific individuals and their formal role as requirement managers are reported.

                         

    Findings

    The requirement manager’s role fulfillment is performed through five major activities described as developing, anchoring, re-organizing, routinizing, and positioning. These activities are essential in order to manage working with a large flagship project.

     

    Practical implications

    This paper argues that functional roles should not be taken for granted. Even though significant efforts may have been performed in order to establish a new function within a project management setting, the process of establishing new work practices is complex. Managers should therefore investigate inter-functional integration on ongoing bases.

     

    Originality/value

    This paper provides important insights into aspects of requirement manager’s ongoing project activities.

  • 12.
    Burström, Thommie
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Wilson, Timothy
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    The role of the chief project manager (CPM) in fuzzy projects2012Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 13.
    Harryson Näsholm, Malin
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Burström, Thommie
    Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland.
    Experienced boundaries in intra-organizational global careers - an examination of boundary dynamics in boundaryless careers2013Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 14.
    Jacobsson, Mattias
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Burström, Thommie
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    Wilson, Timothy L.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
    The Role of Transition in Temporary Organizations: Linking Temporary to the Permanent2013In: International Journal of Managing Projects in Business/Emerald, ISSN 1753-8378, E-ISSN 1753-8386, Vol. 6, no 3, p. 576-586Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose – This research note puts the role of transition back in the center of the temporary organization and lends to understanding the temporary organization as a transitory unit within the permanent organization. The purpose is to reactivate theory development within this field of research and promote a dialog that will point to a possible way forward.

    Design/methodology/approach – An intra-organizational perspective is taken. Backgrounds of the two theories are covered and then the temporary organization as a transitory unit, and the role of transition are addressed. One basic transformation is made in the theory of the temporary organization and then the model superposed on the behavioral theory of the firm.

    Findings – In total, four things were achieved. First, the conceptualization of temporary organization was simplified – five variables have been reduced to four in eliminating “action” as an element of description. Second, the conceptualization was extended to include constructs of the permanent organization. Third, the theory was strengthened by providing an extended framework that potentially could be examined to check observations against theory. Finally, some directions were suggested for future theory development to take.

    Research limitations/implications – The research note is conceptual, so applicability depends upon the nature of the particular organization to which it is applied.

    Originality/value – Although the paper is conceptual, the authors believe that the approach can be used to understand the interrelatedness of the temporary and permanent organization and to promote a dialog within this field of research – a dialog that hopefully will reactivate theory development.

  • 15.
    Saarikko, Ted
    et al.
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
    Jonsson, Katrin
    Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics.
    Burström, Thommie
    Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland.
    Towards an understanding of entrepreneurial alertness in the formation of platform ecosystems2014In: 22nd European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Tel Aviv, June 9-11,  2014, 2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In platform ecosystems, the platform provider seeks to derive increasing returns over time as the ecosystem of backing actors grows more numerous. While a growing body of research has addressed the ecosystem strategies of large enterprises, less attention has been paid to small firms in the role of platform providers. As small firms do not possess the resources of large enterprises, they are not in a position to ignore the importance of immediate returns needed for the viability of the firm. In a case study, we study the entrepreneurial alertness of a small technology-based firm in promoting a platform for machine-to-machine communication. Our results suggest that balancing increasing and immediate returns requires a variety of entrepreneurial activities that encompasses strategic foresight and systemic insight on one hand, and explorative and exploitative actions on the other. This paper contributes to our understanding of platform ecosystems by addressing the strategies of a small firm as an emerging platform provider.

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