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Organizing boundaries in early phases of product development: The case of an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting

Thommie Burström (Umeå School of Business, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




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”.


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.


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.


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.



Burström, T. (2011), "Organizing boundaries in early phases of product development: The case of an interorganizational vehicle platform project setting", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 697-710.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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