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Economic evaluation of designing in the unknown : Design theory-based models beyond decision theory under uncertainty

Abstract : Decision theory provides computational techniques which quantify the value of information and guide decisions under uncertainty. These latter are very relevant for economic calculation under uncertainty, but they ignore the value of the unknown. It is now well-proved that such techniques are unsuitable, even misleading in a situation that contains unknown. Does this mean that in the unknown, economic calculators should give up any form of computational approach and only rely on intuitions? Or could we contemplate a computational technique that isolates and assesses economic effects in the unknown? This research work provides some insights to these questions by studying economic phenomena in the commercial aircraft industry, where economic calculation is massively used (profitability analyzes, costing analyzes...), and by mobilizing design theory models which account for the emergence of the unknown. A first research axis investigates the impacts of the unknown in rule-based design. We seek to understand the extent to which the unknown may impact a product development cost evolution dynamics by simulating the relationship between functional expansion and development cost escalation. We find that functional expansion introduces shocks in product architecture, the cost impact of which may be dramatic. And we study how well-known cost management techniques (modularization, anticipative overinvestment) could reduce costs under functional expansion. This leads to discuss how the misuse of classic cost reduction techniques under functional expansion could generate industrial catastrophes. A second axis focuses on investment cases whose huge economic returns seem incomprehensible in a decision-theoretic framework. We demonstrate that the unknown has played a role in the generation of these returns. And we show that specific methods and managerial principles were used to rigorously explore the unknown and generate such returns. The outcomes of this work suggest that the unknown can be managed as an economic variable in its own right, which raises further questions, namely about the kind of organizations that could deploy and operate ‘economic calculation in the unknown’.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 9:54:11 AM
Last modification on : Monday, June 27, 2022 - 3:02:26 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Saturday, February 5, 2022 - 6:22:53 PM


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  • HAL Id : tel-03413926, version 1


Agathe Gilain. Economic evaluation of designing in the unknown : Design theory-based models beyond decision theory under uncertainty. Business administration. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2021. English. ⟨NNT : 2021UPSLM025⟩. ⟨tel-03413926⟩



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