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Master's thesis: Agile product development and strategic agility in technology firms

Published by: PolinaMalashevich Last modified: 2011.05.06
A literature survey establishes an integrated framework for business strategy and product development methodologies under specific conditions. In market environments of fast and complex change, firms need to be strategically agile to sustain a competitive advantage. Specific dynamic capabilities underlie strategic agility. Well-known management principles, engineering practices and process methodologies in product development directly correspond to such capabilities. Using the Scrum methodology as an example, this study establishes new connections between streams of literature that concur in content but have previously not been considered together.

The framework is tested in a survey of Finnish technology companies conducted by interviewing executives. Evidence from companies with several years of experience in introducing agile methodologies partially verify the model. Several positive effects anticipated by the model are found in the firms’ current operations — whether or not they were part of the original motivation.While some others do not appear immediately relevant, the majority of the theoretical
connections offer firms attractive areas of improvement. Serendipitous benefits predicted by the model and found in the case companies suggest such agile transformations should further integrate strategy.

The study results recommend considering the adoption of agile product development methods a long-term strategic investment. A stronger and more formalised connection between the fields of strategy and product development motivates the entire organisation to embrace change initiatives rather than consider them internal to the R&D department.
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