Knowledge Integration in a P-form Corporation: Project Epochs in the Evolution of Asea/ABB, 1945–2000

Jonas Söderlund and Fredrik Tell

in Knowledge Integration and Innovation

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693924
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191730580 | DOI:
Knowledge Integration in a P-form Corporation: Project Epochs in the Evolution of Asea/ABB, 1945–2000

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This chapter presents an analysis of knowledge integration in project-based organizations. It conceptualizes the organization of the firm as a function of its capability to solve complex problems through knowledge integration. It is argued that the project-based organizational form (P-form) represents a specific permanent organizational configuration conducive for knowledge integration in the so-called Complex Products and Systems (CoPS) industries. The chapter presents a longitudinal analysis of market complexity, technological complexity, and organizational design in the evolution of a P-form corporation, namely Asea/ABB, over a period of more than fifty years. The chapter distinguishes four distinct project epochs during the studied period. These project epochs are characterized by increasing market complexity and technological complexity. Finally, the chapter discusses the influence of complexity and organizational design on project generation and execution, and elaborates on a number of salient characteristics of the P-form corporation.

Keywords: project-based organizations; organizational capabilities; project management; project epoch; systems integration; multi-technological firms; market complexity; technological complexity; electrical engineering

Chapter.  13570 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Innovation

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