Book Chapters

Bras, B. A. and J. Emblemsvåg (1996). “Activity-Based Costing and Uncertainty in Designing for the Life-Cycle” in Design for X: Concurrent Engineering Imperatives, G. Q. Huang Ed., Chapman & Hall, London.

Abstract: Concurrent Engineering represents a common sense approach to product realization in which all elements of the product life-cycle from conception through manufacturing to disposal are integrated into a single continuos feed-back driven design process. The primary goal of Concurrent Engineering has always been the minimization of costs over the complete life-cycle of a system while maximizing its quality and performance (Winner, R.I., J.P. Pennel, H.E. Bertrand and M.M.G. Slusarczuk (1988), IDA Report R-338). The growing importance of including environmental issues in design has amplified the impetus for companies to more formally consider the entire life-cycle of a product, from cradle to grave or even to reincarnation through recycling and reuse. In this chapter, a method for developing an Activity-Based Cost (ABC) model for use in life-cycle design under the presence of uncertainty is described. The crux in developing an ABC model is to identify the activities that will be present in the life-cycle of a product, and afterwards assign reliable cost drivers and associated consumption intensities to the activities. Uncertainty distributions are assigned to the numbers used in the calculations, representing the inherent uncertainty in the model. The effect of the uncertainty on the cost and the model behavior are found by employing a numerical simulation technique – the Monte Carlo simulation technique. The additional use of detailed process action charts and sensitivity charts allows the influence of the uncertainty to be traced through the cost model to specific product and process parameters. The method is illustrated using a detailed product demanufacturing cost model.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2005). “From Hindsight to Foresight in Strategic Cost Management” – in Handbook of Business Strategy 2006, P. Coate, Ed., Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bradford.

Abstract: Hindsight is 20/20, but foresight is better.  It is time to turn cost management practices away from accurate historic numbers to approximate forecasts generated from a process-oriented framework where risk is managed and uncertainty is analyzed.  This is not only highly desirable in strategic cost management, but also doable.  In this paper it is explained how this can be achieved and a case is provided.


Seepersad, C.C., Pedersen K., Emblemsvag J., Bailey R., Allen J.K. and F. Mistree. (2006). “The Validation Square: How Does One Verify and Validate a Design Method?” in Decision making in engineering design, K.E. Lewis, W. Chen and L. Schmidt, Eds, ASME Press, New York, pp. 303 – 314.

Abstract:  Validation of engineering research has traditionally been anchored in the context of scientific inquiry that demands formal, rigorous and quantitative validation. Logical induction and deduction play key roles in this formalism, making it particularly useful for validating internal consistency within the framework of the scientific method. Since much engineering research is based on mathematical modeling, this kind of validation has worked–and still works–very well. There are, however, other areas of engineering research that rely on subjective statements as well as mathematical modeling, making formal, rigorous and quantitative validation problematic. One such area is that of design methods within the field of engineering design. In this paper, we explore the question: “How does one validate design research in general, and design methods in particular, given that many proposed designs will never be realized and that it is often infeasible to follow the realized designs through their complete life cycles?” Anchored in the tradition of scientific inquiry, research validation is strongly tied to a fundamental problem addressed in epistemology: “What is scientific knowledge, and how is new knowledge confirmed?” Thus, we first look to epistemology for: (1) reasons why the traditional approach of formal, rigorous and quantifiable validation is problematic for engineering design research; and (2) an alternative approach to research validation. We present a new validation procedure, namely, the Validation Square, and offer advice for applying it in an engineering design research context. We recognize that no one has the answer to the questions we pose. To help us converge on an answer to these questions, we think aloud and invite you to join us. It is our hope that the ensuing discussion will enrich all of us as members of the design community.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2011). Augmenting the risk management process. in Risk Management Trends. G. Nota (Ed.). Rijeka, Croatia, InTech, pp. 1-26.

Abstract: Time and chance happens to them all… – a statement fitting one corporate scandal after the other, culminating by a financial crisis that has demonstrated that major risks were ignored or not even identified and managed.  Before these scandals, risk management was an increasingly hot topic on a wider scale in corporations. Yet, its effectiveness might be questioned as the financial crisis shows. Furthermore, we must acknowledge the paradox that the increasing reliance on risk management have in fact lead decision-makers to take risks they normally would not take.  This has also been clearly demonstrated by one financial institution after the other in the run-up to the financial crisis.  Sophisticated risk management and financial instruments lead people astray.  Thus, risk management can be a double-edged sword as we either run the risk of ignoring risks (and risk management) or we fall victim to potential deception by risk management. Nonetheless, there exists numerous risk management approaches, but all suffer from a major limitation:  They cannot produce consistent decision support to the extent desired and subsequently they become less trustworthy.  This chapter therefore focuses on reducing these limitations and improve the quality of risk management.  However, it is unlikely that any approach can be developed that is 100% consistent, free of deception and without the risk of reaching different conclusions.  There will always be an element of art, albeit less than today.