Optimal modularity: A demonstration of the evolutionary advantage of modular architectures
AbstractModularity is an important concept in evolutionary theorizing but lack of a consistent definition renders study difficult. Using the generalised NK-model of fitness landscapes, we differentiate modularity from decomposability. Modular and decomposable systems are both composed of subsystems but in the former these subsystems are connected via interface standards while in the latter subsystems are completely isolated. We derive the optimal level of modularity, which minimises the time required to globally optimise a system, both for the case of two-layered systems and for the general case of multi-layered hierarchical systems containing modules within modules. This derivation supports the hypothesis of modularity as a mechanism to increase the speed of evolution. Our formal definition clarifies the concept of modularity and provides a framework and an analytical baseline for further research.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) in its series Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series with number 11-03.
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision: Jun 2011
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://ecis.ieis.tue.nl/
Modularity; Decomposability; Near-decomposability; Complexity; NK-model; Search; hierarchy;
Other versions of this item:
- Koen Frenken & Stefan Mendritzki, 2012. "Optimal modularity: a demonstration of the evolutionary advantage of modular architectures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(5), pages 935-956, November.
- D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
- O31 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
- O32 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-06-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-CMP-2011-06-25 (Computational Economics)
- NEP-HME-2011-06-25 (Heterodox Microeconomics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Frenken, K. & Nuvolari, A., 2003.
"The Early Development of the Steam Engine: An Evolutionary Interpretation using Complexity Theory,"
Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) working paper series
03.15, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS).
- Koen Frenken & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2004. "The early development of the steam engine: an evolutionary interpretation using complexity theory," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 419-450, April.
- Frenken, K. & Nuvolari, A., 2003. "The Early Development of the Steam Engine: An Evolutionary Interpretation using Complexity Theory," Working Papers 03.15, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
- Richard N. Langlois & Giampaolo Garzarelli, 2008.
"Of Hackers and Hairdressers: Modularity and the Organizational Economics of Open-source Collaboration,"
2008-53, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
- Richard Langlois & Giampaolo Garzarelli, 2008. "Of Hackers and Hairdressers: Modularity and the Organizational Economics of Open-source Collaboration," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(2), pages 125-143.
- Carliss Y. Baldwin & Kim B. Clark, 2000. "Design Rules, Volume 1: The Power of Modularity," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262024667, December.
- Sylvie Geisendorf, 2010. "Searching NK Fitness Landscapes: On the Trade Off Between Speed and Quality in Complex Problem Solving," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 395-406, April.
- Daniel A. Levinthal, 1997. "Adaptation on Rugged Landscapes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 43(7), pages 934-950, July.
- Herbert A. Simon, 2002. "Near decomposability and the speed of evolution," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 587-599, June.
- Stefano Brusoni & Luigi Marengo & Andrea Prencipe & Marco Valente, 2004. "The Value and Costs of Modularity: A Cognitive Perspective," SPRU Working Paper Series 123, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
- Tommaso Ciarli & Riccardo Leoncini & Sandro Montresor & Marco Valente, 2008. "Technological change and the vertical organization of industries," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 367-387, August.
- Scott E. Page, 1996. "Two measures of difficulty (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 321-346.
- Jan W. Rivkin & Nicolaj Siggelkow, 2007. "Patterned Interactions in Complex Systems: Implications for Exploration," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(7), pages 1068-1085, July.
- Page, Scott E, 1996. "Two Measures of Difficulty," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 321-46, August.
- Koen Frenken & Luigi Marengo & Marco Valente, 1999. "Interdependencies, nearly-decomposability and adaption," CEEL Working Papers 9903, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
- Arthur, W. Brian, 2007. "The structure of invention," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 274-287, March.
- Luigi Marengo & Giovanni Dosi, 2003.
"Division of Labor, Organizational Coordination and Market Mechanism in Collective Problem-Solving,"
LEM Papers Series
2003/04, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- Marengo, Luigi & Dosi, Giovanni, 2005. "Division of labor, organizational coordination and market mechanisms in collective problem-solving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 303-326, October.
- Frenken, Koen, 2006. "A fitness landscape approach to technological complexity, modularity, and vertical disintegration," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 288-305, September.
- Marengo, Luigi, et al, 2000.
"The Structure of Problem-Solving Knowledge and the Structure of Organizations,"
Industrial and Corporate Change,
Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 757-88, December.
- Luigi Marengo & Giovanni Dosi & Paolo Legrenzi & Corrado Pasquali, 1999. "The structure of problem-solving knowledge and the structure of organisations," LEM Papers Series 1999/09, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- Sendil K. Ethiraj & Daniel Levinthal, 2004. "Modularity and Innovation in Complex Systems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(2), pages 159-173, February.
- Carliss Y. Baldwin, 2008. "Where do transactions come from? Modularity, transactions, and the boundaries of firms," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 155-195, February.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Carolina Castaldi).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.