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Modularity, flexibility, and knowledge management in product and organization design

Modularity, flexibility, and knowledge management in product and organization design This paper investigates interrelationships of product design, organization design, processes for learning and managing knowledge, and competitive strategy. This paper uses the principles of nearly decomposable systems to investigate the ability of standardized interfaces between components in a product design to embed coordination of product development processes. Embedded coordination creates ‘hierarchical coordination’ without the need to continually exercise authority—enabling effective coordination of processes without the tight coupling of organizational structures. We develop concepts of modularity in product and organization designs based on standardized component and organization interfaces. Modular product architectures create information structures that provide the ‘glue’ that holds together the loosely coupled parts of a modular organization design. By facilitating loose coupling, modularity can also reduce the cost and difficulty of adaptive coordination, thereby increasing the strategic flexibility of firms to respond to environmental change. Modularity in product and organization designs therefore enables a new strategic approach to the management of knowledge based on an intentional, carefully managed loose coupling of a firm's learning processes at architectural and component levels of product creation processes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Strategic Management Journal Wiley

Modularity, flexibility, and knowledge management in product and organization design

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References (94)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN
0143-2095
eISSN
1097-0266
DOI
10.1002/smj.4250171107
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper investigates interrelationships of product design, organization design, processes for learning and managing knowledge, and competitive strategy. This paper uses the principles of nearly decomposable systems to investigate the ability of standardized interfaces between components in a product design to embed coordination of product development processes. Embedded coordination creates ‘hierarchical coordination’ without the need to continually exercise authority—enabling effective coordination of processes without the tight coupling of organizational structures. We develop concepts of modularity in product and organization designs based on standardized component and organization interfaces. Modular product architectures create information structures that provide the ‘glue’ that holds together the loosely coupled parts of a modular organization design. By facilitating loose coupling, modularity can also reduce the cost and difficulty of adaptive coordination, thereby increasing the strategic flexibility of firms to respond to environmental change. Modularity in product and organization designs therefore enables a new strategic approach to the management of knowledge based on an intentional, carefully managed loose coupling of a firm's learning processes at architectural and component levels of product creation processes.

Journal

Strategic Management JournalWiley

Published: Dec 1, 1996

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