The influence of technical expertise on managerial activities throughout the innovation process
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Rekonen, Satu M.; Björklund, Tua A.; Liikkanen, Lassi A.
Institution: 1: Aalto University School of Science, Finland; 2: Aalto University Design Factory, Finland
This paper investigates the management activities of the project managers of six new product development projects based on a longitudinal, interview-based study. The study compared how the managerial activities of managers with a technical background differed from those with a non-technical background, and how these activities evolved throughout the different innovation process phases. The results illustrate clear differences between the two types of managers related to decision-making, participation in the hands-on execution of the project, and role allocation. In addition, project managers with non-technical backgrounds had to tolerate more uncertainty due to limited ability to predict and solve development problems. They also had to redefine their roles as the project proceeded to later development phases, unlike the technical managers who had a strong involvement in technical execution throughout the project. On the other hand, many activities common to all managers, related to for example creating an open and trustful atmosphere and coordinating the whole, differed between the front-end, early development and late development phases.