The Value and Costs of Modularity: A Cognitive Perspective
AbstractThis paper discusses the issue of modularity from a problem-solving perspective. Modularity is in fact a decomposition heuristic, through which a complex problem is decomposed into independent or quasi-independent sub-problems. By means of a model of problem decomposition, this paper studies the trade-offs of modularity: on the one hand finer modules increase the speed of search, but on the other hand they usually determine lock-in into sub-optimal solutions. How effectively to balance this trade-off depends upon the problem environment and its complexity and volatility: we show that in stationary and complex environments there exists an evolutionary advantage to over-modularization, while in highly volatile – though “simple” – en- vironments, contrary to usual wisdom, modular search is inefficient. The empirical relevance of our findings is discussed, especially with reference to the literature on system integration.
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 SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex in its series SPRU Working Paper Series with number 123.
Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 30 Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Jubilee Building G08, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9SL
Phone: +44 (0)1273 686758
Fax: +44 (0)1273 685865
Web page: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru
More information through EDIRC
modularity; problem solving; complex systems;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- O3 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Technological Change; Research and Development; Intellectual Property Rights
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-03-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2005-03-20 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-TID-2005-03-20 (Technology & Industrial Dynamics)
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.:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Herbert A. Simon, 1996. "The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691914, January.
- 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.
- Giovanni Dosi & Daniel Levinthal & Luigi Marengo, 2002. "The Uneasy Organizational Matching Between Distribution of Knowledge, Divisionof Labor and Incentive Governance," LEM Papers Series 2002/26, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- 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.
- Leonardo Bargigli, 2005. "The limits of modularity in innovation and production," KITeS Working Papers 176, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Sep 2005.
- Andreas Reinstaller, 2011. "The Modularity of Technology and Organisations. Implications for the Theory of the Firm," WIFO Working Papers 398, WIFO.
- 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.
- 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.
- Guido Fioretti, 2005. "Credit Rationing and Internal Ratings in the face of Innovation and Uncertainty," Finance 0504021, EconWPA.
- Gil, Nuno, 2007. "On the value of project safeguards: Embedding real options in complex products and systems," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 980-999, September.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Russell Eke).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.