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Technological Determinism and Modularity: Lessons from a Comparison between Aircraft and Auto Industries in Europe

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Author Info

  • Vincent Frigant
  • Damien Talbot

Abstract

Initial studies of modular manufacturing processes have shown that this dominant design required a fundamentally novel organisational structure of the industries. The underlying hypothesis of technological determinism merits a deeper exploration. The first part of the present paper aims at presenting the logic of this argument while making a distinction between the technological and organisational aspects of modularity. Based on this we then attempt a study of the manner in which the transition to modularity takes place in the aircraft and automobile industries. Our main conclusion is that while it may be possible to posit a convergence between these two industries, the paths followed are still quite clearly opposed.

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File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13662710500195934
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Industry and Innovation.

Volume (Year): 12 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 337-355

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Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:12:y:2005:i:3:p:337-355

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Related research

Keywords: Modular production; supplier relationships; technological determinism; aircraft; automobile;

References

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  1. Langlois, Richard N. & Robertson, Paul L., 1992. "Networks and innovation in a modular system: Lessons from the microcomputer and stereo component industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 297-313, August.
  2. Richard N. Langlois, 2004. "Competition through Institutional Form: the Case of Cluster Tool Standards," Working papers 2004-10, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  3. Vincent Frigant, 2005. "Vanishing hand versus Systems integrators - Une revue de la littérature sur l'impact organisationnel de la modularité," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 109(1), pages 29-52.
  4. Andrea Bonaccorsi & Paola Giuri, 2000. "The long term evolution of vertically-related industries," LEM Papers Series 2000/01, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  5. Frenken, Koen, 2000. "A complexity approach to innovation networks. The case of the aircraft industry (1909-1997)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 257-272, February.
  6. Langlois, Richard N., 2002. "Modularity in technology and organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 19-37, September.
  7. Schaefer, Scott, 1999. "Product design partitions with complementary components," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 311-330, March.
  8. Richard N. Langlois, 2002. "The Vanishing Hand: the Changing Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism," Working papers 2002-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  9. Timothy J. Sturgeon, 2002. "Modular production networks: a new American model of industrial organization," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 451-496, June.
  10. Ulrich, Karl, 1995. "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 419-440, May.
  11. Vincent Frigant, 2002. "Geographical proximity and supplying relationships in modular production," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 742-755, December.
  12. Brusoni, Stefano & Prencipe, Andrea, 2001. "Unpacking the Black Box of Modularity: Technologies, Products and Organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(1), pages 179-205, March.
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