Inderscience Publishers

IPVM: IT support of concurrent product development teams

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R&D executives face the difficult task of knowledge-management over heterogeneous Concurrent Engineering (CE) teams in an environment of time pressure, uncertainty and high failure rates. Decision-making is particularly difficult when team members are geographically dispersed, come from a broad range of cultures and disciplines, and interact for a relatively short time period. Global high-tech firms, where stakeholders are dispersed around the world and cannot meet face-to-face on a regular basis, conduct much of the dialogue electronically. Computer support of collaborative work and Group-Decision-Support- Systems (GDSS) in particular facilitates the process. The Intensity-Polarity-Voting-Model (IPVM) that we develop aggregates each decision-maker's position and intensity on a given issue to generate a group position, the group's aggregate intensity, and the group's level of consensus associated with that particular issue - the associated polarity. The IPVM polarity value is used to focus the discussion on controversial issues and set an optimal agenda for increasing group efficiency. IPVM's intensity measures the level of group competence associated with a given issue. Low intensity issues may have to be studied further before they can be resolved. IPVM polarity also gauges the level of cohesiveness in the group, a predictor of operational effectiveness. The IPVM is applicable to forecasting, make-or-buy decisions, supply-chain-management, knowledge management, product design, quality-function-deployment, ongoing quality control, and total-quality-management. This paper focuses on an international CE team selecting an original-equipment-manufacturer (OEM) to subcontract a key subsystem.

Keywords: knowledge management, concurrent engineering, GDSS, collaborative work, groupware, management of technology, power, conflict, negotiation, motivation, supply chain management, quality function deployment, QFD, Japanese management, OEM selection, teamwork

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