Modularity and Innovation in Complex Systems
AbstractThe problem of designing, coordinating, and managing complex systems has been central to the management and organizations literature. Recent writings have tended to offer modularity as, at least, a partial solution to this design problem. However, little attention has been paid to the problem of identifying what constitutes an appropriate modularization of a complex system. We develop a formal simulation model that allows us to carefully examine the dynamics of innovation and performance in complex systems. The model points to the trade-off between the destabilizing effects of overly refined modularization and the modest levels of search and a premature fixation on inferior designs that can result from excessive levels of integration. The analysis highlights an asymmetry in this trade-off, with excessively refined modules leading to cycling behavior and a lack of performance improvement. We discuss the implications of these arguments for product and organization design.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy in its series LEM Papers Series with number 2003/15.
Date of creation: 17 Dec 2003
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-04-04 (All new papers)
- NEP-CMP-2004-04-04 (Computational Economics)
- NEP-INO-2004-04-04 (Innovation)
- NEP-TID-2004-04-04 (Technology & Industrial Dynamics)
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