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.
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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
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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)
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