Open Access Article

Title: A game theory perspective on product development project charters: the project manager - project sponsor relationship as an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma

Authors: Steven M. Muegge

Addresses: Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada

Abstract: The product development processes of many firms include a project charter - a document that formally authorises a product development project, establishes expectations and success criteria, and provides a project manager with authority and resources. Neither the project sponsors nor the project manager have complete and perfect knowledge; thus the project charter is the outcome of negotiation, estimation, and forecasting by stakeholders with partially aligned and partially differing incentives - a situation that game theorists characterise as a 'mixed-motive game'. This article develops a conceptual game theory model of the project manager - project sponsor relationship, then draws on past research on analytic game theory, evolutionary game theory, and behavioural game theory to develop propositions about cooperation on project charters and implications for theory and practice. The model and propositions developed from the model contribute to our conceptual understanding of cooperation within product development organisations and the theoretical underpinnings of project management.

Keywords: project management; game theory; project charters; cooperation; project governance; product development; project sponsor relationships; Prisoner's Dilemma; project sponsors; mixed-motive games.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPOM.2017.083115

International Journal of Project Organisation and Management, 2017 Vol.9 No.1, pp.57 - 82

Received: 24 Jun 2015
Accepted: 26 Aug 2015

Published online: 21 Mar 2017 *