Journal papers

Emblemsvåg, J. and B. A. Bras (1997). “A Method for Life-Cycle Design Cost Assessments using Activity-Based Costing and Uncertainty”, International Journal of Design Automation. Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 339-354.

Abstract: A growing concern about the environment has spurred the design of more environmentally benign products and processes. For businesses, the cost of such environmentally benign products and processes is of critical importance. In this paper, a method for establishing an Activity-Based Costing with Uncertainty (ACU) model for use in life-cycle design is described. The crux is to identify the activities that will be present in the life-cycle of a product, and afterwards assign reliable cost drivers to the activities. Throughout the whole process of identifying cost drivers and consumption intensities, uncertainty distributions are assigned to the numbers used in the calculations, representing the uncertainty in the model. The inherent uncertainty is handled by employing a numerical simulation technique – the Monte Carlo simulation technique – to simulate the behavior of the model. The shape of these distributions could be based on historical data or on a designer’s insight. The inclusion of these uncertainties in the model has the advantage that more true to nature assumptions are made. In addition, Activity-Based Costing (ABC) facilitates the tracing of the effects of these uncertainties through the activity network. By tracing the influence of the uncertainty and variability through the activity network, it may be noted that some uncertainties have an insignificant effect and no further data or information gathering has to be undertaken. The method is highlighted in an illustrative example where a car maker faces legislation that will force a take back of cars after a car’s useful life has ended and wants to know the cost or profit involved in recycling a car under presence of uncertainty.


Emblemsvåg, J. and B. Bras (1999). “LCA Comparability and the Waste Index”. International Journal of Life-Cycle Assessments. Vol. 4, No. 5, pp. 282-290.

Abstract:  There are several problems with the current Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods. One of the most serious problems, in our opinion, is incomparability of results. Several industry representatives have expressed that without comparability and benchmarkability LCA will not survive long in the commercial world. It is therefore paramount that comparability is achieved. Incomparability stems from the usage of different functional units, unit processes and, most notably, different impact categorizations. We propose a new index – the Waste Index (WI) – that does not rely upon any of these techniques, but rather measures an imbalance in Nature and relies upon thermodynamics and chemistry – resulting in comparability.


Emblemsvåg, J. and B. Bras (2000). “Process Thinking – A New Paradigm for Science and Engineering.” Futures. Vol. 32, No. 7, pp. 635 – 654.

Abstract: As our research related to sustainability has progressed, we have realized that knowledge is not the prime problem.  We believe that the ruling paradigm of science and engineering and policy needs to be critically evaluated.  This paradigm holds that everything can be reduced to the tiniest particles which interact in a clockwork like fashion.  However, new discoveries has lead to the concept of ‘systems thinking’.   Systems thinking is particularly important in dealing with our environmental problems and other large scale open-ended problems.  But is systems thinking sufficient?  We intend to show that systems thinking is a major step in the right direction, but it is insufficient in handling the increasing environmental problems of our planet.  We believe that ‘process thinking’ is a better paradigm due to the profound importance of change and continuous improvement.  The superficial understanding of change in science and engineering has, in our opinion, resulted in what we call the ‘Dogmas of Science and Engineering’ which are the main roots of our problems.  A new paradigm must therefore violate these dogmas for mankind to overcome the problems we are facing.  This new paradigm must permeate the entire society as well, hence both scientific and political leadership is crucial.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2001). “Activity-Based Life-Cycle Costing”. Managerial Auditing Journal. Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 17 – 27.

Abstract:  The purpose of this paper is to present a new method for Life-Cycle Costing (LCC) called Activity-Based LCC which derives from the comprehensive Activity-Based Cost and Environmental Management method. A real-life case study of a Platform Supply Vessel operating in the North Sea is utilized to present the method, illustrate an implementation including results and discuss the benefits.  Furthermore, due to the inherent uncertainty in LCC handling of uncertainty is emphasized.  A crucial side-effect of handling uncertainty by employing Monte Carlo simulations – as prescribed by the method – is the greatly enhanced tracing of critical success factors.  Such tracing enables the shipowners to increase long term profitability by focusing on what is critical to their success.  Also, a design option of using Heavy Fuel Oil versus Marine Gas Oil is investigated.


Emblemsvåg, J. and L. E. Kjølstad (2002). “Strategic Risk Analysis – a Field Version”. Management Decision. Vol. 40, No. 9, pp. 842-852.

Abstract:  Most people agree that preparing for the future is necessary to excel, but doing it effectively is difficult. All risk analyses offer some foresight, but tools based on classic probabilistic calculus open for deception through apparent accuracy in some situations because ambiguity and fuzziness is largely ignored. We believe this is particularly a problem in strategic settings as it may lead to less informed decision-making. We also believe that Strategic Risk Analysis can hardly be performed well without matching risk management actions to the organization’s characteristics. We therefore present a new approach towards Strategic Risk Analysis that remedies the two aforementioned problems. The purpose is to analyze strategic risks in a meaningful and practical way, yet capable of handling the broader scope of strategic risk. The approach is illustrated by a case.


Emblemsvåg, J. and L. Tonning (2003). “Decision Support in Selecting Maintenance Organization”. Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering. Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 11-24.

Abstract:  Selecting a satisfactory maintenance organization to support costly and technologically advanced assets with a long life-cycle is not easy. There are numerous objectives to fulfill and many are changing. There are many fuzzy and multi-dimensional decision criteria and significant uncertainties and risks. Additionally, stakeholders from industry and government may not share similar interests, and this restricts the range of alternative solutions. Yet, we must select the complete maintenance organization for these assets to ensure product integrity through life compliant to end-user needs. This paper discusses how the Analytic Hierarchy Process is applied in a method to identity the preferred maintenance organization for one particular weapons system of the Norwegian Army. We also find it necessary to evaluate the robustness of the decision using Monte Carlo simulations and to employ sensitivity analyses to identify critical success factors.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2003). “The Green Invisible Hand”. Foresight. Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 11-19.

Abstract:  The idea behind the Invisible Hand is that when market participants pursue their own self-interest constrained by sympathy for man and economic rivalry they satisfy the needs of others more effectually than if they intentionally tried to satisfy those needs. This pursuit of self-interest drives the marketplace towards generation of wealth, and it has undoubtedly led to many technical and societal marvels, but limitations are evident because the material wealth has partly been developed at the expense of the natural- and social wealth. To improve this unfortunate situation we need to fundamentally reengineer commerce. Some ideas are discussed here – an important one is the concept of money because an environmental equivalent of money is needed to make the Invisible Hand ‘green’.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2004) “Activity-Based Costing and Economic Profit – Why, What and How”. Cost Management (fmr. Journal of Cost Management). Vol. 18. July/August. pp. 38-46.

Abstract:  Activity-Based Costing (ABC) is recognized for providing excellent decision support for a variety of management activities.  By combining ABC and Economic Profit (EP), however, a company can better understand how to profitably manage its capital because the basis for managing costs is more complete.  A case study is provided to show how to combine ABC and EP.


Emblemsvåg, J. and L. E. Kjølstad (2006). “Qualitative Risk Analysis – some problems and remedies”. Management Decision. Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 395-408.

Abstract: Risk management is increasingly on the corporate agenda, but experience and research indicate that the current, qualitative risk management approaches produce widely different results depending on the chosen approach and how it is facilitated.  This is a problem because it may ultimately undermine the whole notion of risk management.  In this paper we therefore present some possible remedies in the risk analysis part.  The most important remedies include 1) properly capturing the difference between risk and uncertainty, 2) ensuring consistency in the risk analysis, 3) matching risk and capabilities and 4) managing information.  All these remedies can be effectuated in a single approach using Analytic Hierarchy Process and Monte Carlo methods.  In this paper we show how, and our discussion is supported by functional examples.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2008). “On probability in risk analysis of natural disasters”. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal. Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 508-518.

Abstract:  The analysis of risks of natural disasters is an important part of disaster prevention and management, and it typically follows a standard risk analysis process.  But there are pitfalls.  One pitfall is that the risk analysis is commonly based on the frequency interpretation of probability.  This paper illustrates that unless this pitfall is properly addressed decision-makers run the risk of being greatly mislead particularly for so called low-probability and high-consequence disasters.  The paper uses the case of the Åknes project in Norway as illustration.  At Åknes there is a mountain from which up to 100 million m3 of rocks may slide into the deep fjord beneath causing a tidal wave of disastrous proportions – possibly killing thousands.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2010). “The augmented subjective risk management process”. Management Decision. Vol. 4, No. 2, pp.248 – 259.

Abstract: Risk management is increasingly on the corporate agenda, but experience and research indicate that current, risk management approaches produce widely different results depending on the chosen approach and how it is facilitated. This is not a desirable situation because it can ultimately undermine the whole notion of risk management. In this paper, an augmented subjective risk management process is therefore presented as a preliminary and partial solution to the problem to at least invoke some debate and further research. The approach is not radically different in the overall process, but three major aspects are emphasized; 1) consistent risk analysis, 2) consistent information management and 3) knowledge management. The discussion is supported by a functional example of information management.


Settanni, E. and J. Emblemsvåg (2010). “Applying a non-deterministic life-cycle costing model to manufacturing processes”. Journal of Modeling in Management. Vol. 5, No 3, pp. 220-262.

Structured Abstract:

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to introduce uncertainty analysis within an environmentally extended input-output technological model of life cycle costing. The application of this approach will be illustrated with reference to the ceramic floor tiles manufacturing process.
Design/methodology/approach – Input-output analysis (IOA) provides a computational structure which is interesting for many applications within value chain analysis and business processes analysis. A technological model, which is built bottom-upwards from the operations, warrants that production planning and corporate environmental accounting be closely related to cost accounting. Monte Carlo methods have been employed to assess how the uncertainty may affect the expected outcomes of the model.
Findings – It has been shown, when referring to a vertically-integrated, multi-product manufacturing process, how production and cost planning can be effectively and transparently integrated, also taking the product usage stage into account. The uncertainty of parameters has been explicitly addressed to reflect business reality, thus reducing risk while aiding management to take informed actions. Research limitations/implications – The model is subject to all the assumptions characterizing IOA. Advanced issues such as non linearity and dynamics have not been addressed. These limitations can be seen as reasonable as long as the model is mostly tailored to situations where specialized
information systems and competences about complex methods may be lacking, such as in many small and medium enterprises.
Practical implications – Developing a formal structure which is common to environmental, or other physically-driven, assessments and cost accounting helps to identify and to understand those drivers that are relevant to both of them, especially the effects different design solutions may have on both material flows and the associated life cycle costs.
Originality/value – This approach integrates physical and monetary measures, making the computational mechanisms transparent. Unlike other micro-economic IOA models, the environmental extensions have been introduced. Uncertainty has been addressed with a focus on the easiness of implementing the model.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2013). “How economic behavior can hamper sustainable development”, World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development. Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 252-259.

Abstract: Any undertaking in today’s world is subject to some sort of economic evaluation because there are so many deserving causes that needs our scarce resources.  This is particularly challenging for initiatives that require long-term thinking such as sustainable development.  The reasons for this are many, but they are further exacerbated by short-termism and herding as discussed in this paper.  Chances are that unless we start behaving more economically sound, sustainable development will be greatly hampered.  This paper addresses these issues and introduces the term Behavioral Environmental Management (BEM) to highlight the importance of investigating the behavioral issues in environmental management.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2014). “Lean project planning: Using lean principles in project planning”. International Journal of Construction Project Management. Accepted for publication.

Abstract: Planning should be a crucial element of all types of projects, and its importance can hardly be overstated. Yet, planning is often not performed well. In this paper it is argued that this is due to a fundamentally erroneous approach to planning which is based on a division of the process between planners, who plan, and doers that use the plans which inhibits effective communication. By applying lean principles – principles that have produced excellent results in a number of settings – we propose to change this approach radically. Borrowing from the Last Planner System and combining it with Earned Value Project Management, we get a new approach called Lean Project Planning.


Emblemsvåg, J. (2014). “Lean Project Planning in Shipbuilding”. Journal of Ship Production and Design. Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 79-88.

Abstract: Lean Project Planning (LPP) is a new approach for project planning that has been developed from the Last Planner System to overcome shortcomings in the Earned Value Management approach. In this paper, we investigate how LPP has been successfully used in shipbuilding of a so called Platform Supply Vessel. Due to the highly advanced vessel, we managed to stress-test the approach and found a number of improvements to be made. However, the overall judgment is that LPP is a success. By now, these improvements are more or less implemented except those relevant for the engineering part. When it comes to the engineering processes further improvements are still needed.