A game-based decision support methodology for competitive systems design
Briceño, Simón Ignacio
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This dissertation describes the development of a game-based methodology that facilitates the exploration and selection of research and development (R&D) projects under uncertain competitive scenarios. The proposed method provides an approach that analyzes competitor positioning and formulates response strategies to forecast the impact of technical design choices on a project's market performance. A critical decision in the conceptual design phase of propulsion systems is the selection of the best architecture, centerline, core size, and technology portfolio. A key objective of this research is to examine how firm characteristics such as their relative differences in completing R&D projects, differences in the degree of substitutability between different project types, and first/second-mover advantages affect their product development strategies. Several quantitative methods are investigated that analyze business and engineering strategies concurrently. In particular, formulations based on the well-established mathematical field of game theory are introduced to obtain insights into the project selection problem. The use of game theory is explored in this research as a method to assist the selection process of R&D projects in the presence of imperfect market information. The proposed methodology focuses on two influential factors: the schedule uncertainty of project completion times and the uncertainty associated with competitive reactions. A normal-form matrix is created to enumerate players, their moves and payoffs, and to formulate a process by which an optimal decision can be achieved. The non-cooperative model is tested using the concept of a Nash equilibrium to identify potential strategies that are robust to uncertain market fluctuations (e.g: uncertainty in airline demand, airframe requirements and competitor positioning). A first/second-mover advantage parameter is used as a scenario dial to adjust market rewards and firms' payoffs. The methodology is applied to a commercial aircraft engine selection study where engine firms must select an optimal engine project for development. An engine modeling and simulation framework is developed to generate a broad engine project portfolio. The proposed study demonstrates that within a technical design environment, a rational and analytical means of modeling project development strategies is beneficial in high market risk situations.