Inter‐project improvement in product development

Marc Antoni (Robert Bosch GmbH, Leonberg, Germany)
Lars Nilsson‐Witell (Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden)
Jens J. Dahlgaard (Division of Quality Technology and Management, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Product development projects can be utilized to create not only new products or services but also competitively important capabilities on how to work with product development. The resulting capabilities can be, and often are, as important as the product itself. Although there is potential for an organization to improve product development performance, most organizations can learn even more from their development experiences. A reliance on post‐project reviews to share knowledge across projects is doomed to fail, since it usually is of low priority and does not capture the complexity of development projects. The aim of this research is to investigate what organizations can do to reduce the effect of losing valuable experience gained in product development projects.


A multiple case study approach, using both qualitative and quantitative data, is used to perform a study of two high‐tech product development organizations with respect to their inter‐project improvement activities. A framework concerning inter‐project improvement is presented, containing concepts such as levels of learning, improvement content, and axes of improvement.


To avoid losing valuable experience, an organization should use multiple strategies to share knowledge across projects. Examples of successful strategies are to use a well‐established product development process, professional full‐time project managers as well as modularization of the product.


Although research on organizational learning in product development has increased significantly during the last few years, this research contributes to a deeper understanding of inter‐project improvement by combining perspectives from quality management, organizational learning, and knowledge management.



Antoni, M., Nilsson‐Witell, L. and Dahlgaard, J. (2005), "Inter‐project improvement in product development", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 22 No. 9, pp. 876-893.

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