Selected papers by Sebastian K. Fixson are available on SSRN at


Rework is a persistent problem in many complex product development projects. Major strategies that have been proposed to reduce rework in complex product development projects are reducing the task interdependencies, i.e., modularizing the design, and improving the communication between participating engineers, i.e., co-locating them and encouraging collaboration. Yet, some recent industrial projects could not follow either strategy due to external constraints, with dramatic negative consequences for product development performance. Building on these observations, we develop a simulation game to test various strategies to mitigate the detrimental misalignment effects when a complex product with an integral product architecture is developed by multiple firms forming a modular supply chain. Our simulation experiments replicate system behavior observed in real systems with much higher levels of complexity, and revised strategies using faster information sharing, and temporary acceptance of suboptimal partial solutions show a significant product development performance improvement. We discuss implications for research and practice in the management of complex product development projects.


Operations Research, Systems Engineering and Industrial Engineering