System Dynamics Analysis of the Growth and Management of a Graduate Robotics Lab
Holler Jr., Joseph Robert
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In November of 2012, a robotics research laboratory at a southeastern university began to work on a multi-million dollar robotics project to participate in a national level robotics competition. This project was led by a robotics lab referred to as the Southeastern Robotics Lab (SRL) in this report, and included three additional partners from other research centers, corporations, and universities (referred as Partner A, Partner B and Partner C). While SRL is an experienced robotics laboratory which had performed successfully on various large scale robotics projects, the new project was managerially much more complex due to the involvement of several external organizations, the size of the project, availability of financial resources, and the strictness of the deadlines. The project failed to meet its desired outcome with the project team unable to field a completed system as intended at the end of the scope of work (13 months from project start to conclusion). The failure was an example of common shortcomings in multi-organizational innovative projects. Using the SRL case, we offer a simulation-supported explanation for why complex high-tech projects frequently fail. We gather data through interviewing several researchers directly involved in the project, and conduct textual analysis of archival data through the project. Then we build a system dynamics model of the system and conduct simulation-based analysis of the case. The study offers managerial implications for similar large scale projects.
- Masters Theses