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Exploring the duality between product and organizational architectures: A test of the “mirroring” hypothesis


  • MacCormack, Alan
  • Baldwin, Carliss
  • Rusnak, John


A variety of academic studies argue that a relationship exists between the structure of an organization and the design of the products that this organization produces. Specifically, products tend to “mirror” the architectures of the organizations in which they are developed. This dynamic occurs because the organization's governance structures, problem solving routines and communication patterns constrain the space in which it searches for new solutions. Such a relationship is important, given that product architecture has been shown to be an important predictor of product performance, product variety, process flexibility and even the path of industry evolution.

Suggested Citation

  • MacCormack, Alan & Baldwin, Carliss & Rusnak, John, 2012. "Exploring the duality between product and organizational architectures: A test of the “mirroring” hypothesis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1309-1324.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:41:y:2012:i:8:p:1309-1324 DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.04.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David J. TEECE, 2008. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Transfer And Licensing Of Know-How And Intellectual Property Understanding the Multinational Enterprise in the Modern World, chapter 5, pages 67-87 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Sanderson, Susan & Uzumeri, Mustafa, 1995. "Managing product families: The case of the Sony Walkman," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 761-782, September.
    3. Chrysanthos Nicholas Dellarocas, 1996. "A Coordination Perspective on Software Architecture: Towards a Design Handbook for Integrating Software Components," Working Paper Series 193, MIT Center for Coordination Science.
    4. 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, July.
    5. Sorenson, Olav & Fleming, Lee, 2004. "Science and the diffusion of knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1615-1634, December.
    6. Alan MacCormack & John Rusnak & Carliss Y. Baldwin, 2006. "Exploring the Structure of Complex Software Designs: An Empirical Study of Open Source and Proprietary Code," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1015-1030, July.
    7. Manuel E. Sosa & Steven D. Eppinger & Craig M. Rowles, 2004. "The Misalignment of Product Architecture and Organizational Structure in Complex Product Development," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(12), pages 1674-1689, December.
    8. von Hippel, Eric, 1990. "Task partitioning: An innovation process variable," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 407-418, October.
    9. Jan W. Rivkin & Nicolaj Siggelkow, 2007. "Patterned Interactions in Complex Systems: Implications for Exploration," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(7), pages 1068-1085, July.
    10. 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.
    11. Ulrich, Karl, 1995. "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 419-440, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arash Najmaei, 2016. "Revisiting The Modularity-Performance Nexus: Business Model Innovation As A Missing Mechanism," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 20(07), pages 1-41, October.
    2. Battke, Benedikt & Schmidt, Tobias S. & Stollenwerk, Stephan & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2016. "Internal or external spillovers—Which kind of knowledge is more likely to flow within or across technologies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 27-41.
    3. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:9:p:1791-1811 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Cabigiosu, Anna & Zirpoli, Francesco & Camuffo, Arnaldo, 2013. "Modularity, interfaces definition and the integration of external sources of innovation in the automotive industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 662-675.
    5. Lechevalier, Sébastien & Nishimura, Junichi & Storz, Cornelia, 2014. "Diversity in patterns of industry evolution: How an intrapreneurial regime contributed to the emergence of the service robot industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(10), pages 1716-1729.
    6. Storz, Cornelia & Riboldazzi, Federico & John, Moritz, 2015. "Mobility and innovation: A cross-country comparison in the video games industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 121-137.
    7. Baldwin, Carliss & MacCormack, Alan & Rusnak, John, 2014. "Hidden structure: Using network methods to map system architecture," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(8), pages 1381-1397.
    8. Ashish Arora & Michelle Gittelman & Sarah Kaplan & John Lynch & Will Mitchell & Nicolaj Siggelkow & Chi-Hyon Lee & Manuela N. Hoehn-Weiss & Samina Karim, 2016. "Grouping interdependent tasks: Using spectral graph partitioning to study complex systems," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(1), pages 177-191, January.


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