The Cost Impacts of Jointness: Insights From the NPOESS Program
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE
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Although joint programs are typically formed to reduce costs, recent studies have suggested that they may actually be more costly than non-joint programs. In this paper, we explore this hypothesis using an in-depth case study of the NPOESS program. To study jointness, we apply a semi-quantitative framework that quantifies the complexity impacts of jointness and enables us to observe their evolution over time. In particular, we describe how jointness impacted the NPOESS program by inducing technical and organizational complexity and illustrate how the relationship between both complexity types enabled, sustained, and induced cost growth. We also explain the evolution of the program s technical and organizational complexity by identifying five key technical decisions and collaborating agency interactions that increased complexity and cost. Finally, we conclude by noting that a key source of the NPOESS program s cost growth was not jointness per say, but rather, was the result of a mismatch in the amount of jointness that was present in the program s technical system but was absent in its managing organization.
- Administration and Management