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Modularity and Commonality Research: Past Developments and Future Opportunities


  • Fixson, Sebastian K.


Research on modularity and commonality has grown substantially over the past 15 years. Searching 36 journals over more than the past 35 years, I identify over 160 references in the engineering and management literature that focus on modularity or commonality in the product and process development context. Each of the references is analyzed along the dimensions subject, effect, and research method. The subjects of these studies have been products, processes, organizations, and even innovations, although the set of references shows a strong preference towards products. Similarly, a broad range of effects has been studied, albeit with the topic cost dominating all other effects. A variety of research methods has been applied to the study of modularity and commonality but the distribution of research methods differs substantially for modularity and commonality research. Despite the wealth of existing research, there are still significant opportunities for future research. In particular, studies that incorporate modularity and commonality€ٳ multiple effects on various players along the supply chain, that combine multiple research methods, and that follow systems over time appear very promising.

Suggested Citation

  • Fixson, Sebastian K., 2007. "Modularity and Commonality Research: Past Developments and Future Opportunities," Working papers 37145, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mit:sloanp:37145

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    Cited by:

    1. Fixson, Sebastian K. & Park, Jin-Kyu, 2007. "The Power of Integrality: Linkages between Product Architecture, Innovation, and Industry Structure," Working papers 37154, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. repec:spr:custns:v:4:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s40547-017-0074-y is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Tsekouras, Kostas & Chatzistamoulou, Nikos & Kounetas, Kostas & Broadstock, David C., 2016. "Spillovers, path dependence and the productive performance of European transportation sectors in the presence of technology heterogeneity," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 261-274.
    4. Kuthambalayan, Thyagaraj S. & Mehta, Peeyush & Shanker, Kripa, 2014. "Integrating operations and marketing decisions using delayed differentiation of products and guaranteed delivery time under stochastic demand," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 237(2), pages 617-627.
    5. Menezes, Mozart B.C. & Ruiz-Hernández, Diego & Guimaraes, Renato, 2016. "The component commonality problem in a real multidimensional space: An algorithmic approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 249(1), pages 105-116.
    6. Baud-Lavigne, Bertrand & Agard, Bruno & Penz, Bernard, 2012. "Mutual impacts of product standardization and supply chain design," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 50-60.
    7. Sezer Ülkü & Claudiu V. Dimofte & Glen M. Schmidt, 2012. "Consumer Valuation of Modularly Upgradeable Products," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(9), pages 1761-1776, September.
    8. Shuang Ma & Gang Du & Jianxin (Roger) Jiao & Ruchuan Zhang, 2016. "Hierarchical game joint optimization for product family-driven modular design," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 67(12), pages 1496-1509, December.
    9. Fixson, Sebastian K. & Park, Jin-Kyu, 2008. "The power of integrality: Linkages between product architecture, innovation, and industry structure," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1296-1316, September.


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