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Decision-making and cost deviation in new product development projects

Anne-Cathrine Thore Olsson (School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg, Sweden) (Volvo Cars Corporation, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Ulf Johannesson (School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg, Sweden) (Arcam AB – A GE Company, Gothenburg, Sweden)
Roger Schweizer (Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 28 June 2018

Issue publication date: 15 August 2018




Emphasizing the importance of product cost deviation; the purpose of this paper is to contribute to the new product development (NPD) literature and research on decision making by discussing: How are decisions related to product cost deviations made during a product development project?


An in-depth single case study approach studying the decision-making process of Volvo Cars Cooperation during a car development project is applied.


The paper suggests that factors influencing how decisions related to cost deviations are made during a NPD are not limited to the classic trade-offs among time, cost and scope, but include managers’ complex cause-and-effect analysis under the influence of values, behaviors and norms. Furthermore, the context is not limited to NPD projects; rather the frame for the decisions and its influencers is at least as wide as the corporate context.

Research limitations/implications

The common limitations of a single case study apply.

Practical implications

The study emphasizes the importance of clearly defined targets during a NPD project that need to well communicated, acknowledged and understood by all involved to serve as true business levers. A poor target is likely better than no target. Furthermore, lack of overview or responsibility for the success of the projects, increase the risk for sub-optimization and silo thinking.


The study is pioneering by highlighting the importance of and explaining the implications of decision making related to cost deviations during a NPD project.



Thore Olsson, A.-C., Johannesson, U. and Schweizer, R. (2018), "Decision-making and cost deviation in new product development projects", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 1066-1085.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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