Problem solving and the co-ordination of innovative activities
In the context of increasingly globalized markets, ever more complex supply chains and international manufacturing networks, corporate decision-making processes involve more and more actors, variables and criteria. This is a challenge for corporate head quarters. Many have argued that the role once attributed to the integrated innovative organisation and its R&D laboratories is increasingly associated with the functioning of networks of specialised innovators. The aim of this paper is to argue that the role of large firms may have changed, but it is far from disappeared. It looks at the interplay of increasing knowledge specialisation, the development of products of increasing complexity that perform a widening range of functionalities, and the emergence and diffusion of new design strategies for both products and organisations, namely modularity. The emergence of modularity as a product and organisational design strategy is clearly connected to recent trends in organisational design. Modularity would allow the decoupling of complex artifacts into simpler, self-contained modules. Each module would, at the extreme, become the sole business of a specialised trade. This paper builds upon the idea that there are cognitive limits to this process of modularisation: what kinds of problems firms solve, and how they solve them, set limits to the extent of division of labour among firms. We draw implications of such limits for both management and economic theory.
|Date of creation:||01 Jun 2003|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +44 (0)1273 686758
Fax: +44 (0)1273 685865
Web page: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992.
"The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1137-60, November.
- Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Gary S. Murphy Becker & Kevin M., 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 79, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
- Langlois, Richard N., 2002. "Modularity in technology and organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 19-37, September.
- repec:cup:cbooks:9780521389365 is not listed on IDEAS
- Ulrich, Karl, 1995. "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 419-440, May.
- Richardson, G B, 1972. "The Organisation of Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 883-96, September.
- Langlois, Richard N & Cosgel, Metin M, 1993. "Frank Knight on Risk, Uncertainty, and the Firm: A New Interpretation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(3), pages 456-65, July.
- Nicolai J. Foss, 1996. "Firms, Incomplete Contracts and Organizational Learning," DRUID Working Papers 96-2, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
- 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.
- Ashish Arora & Alfonso Gambardella & Enzo Rullani, 1997. "Division of Labour and the Locus of Inventive Activity," Journal of Management and Governance, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 123-140, March.
- Giovanni Dosi & Daniel Levinthal & Luigi Marengo, 2001.
"Bridging Contested Terrain: Linking Incentive-Based and Learning Perspectives on Organizational Evolution,"
LEM Papers Series
2001/20, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
- Giovanni Dosi & Daniel A. Levinthal & Luigi Marengo, 2003. "Bridging contested terrain: linking incentive-based and learning perspectives on organizational evolution," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 413-436, April.
- Steinmueller, W Edward, 2000. "Will New Information and Communication Technologies Improve the 'Codification' of Knowledge?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 361-76, June.
- Bengt Holmstrom & John Roberts, 1998. "The Boundaries of the Firm Revisited," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 73-94, Fall.
- Orsenigo, L. & Pammolli, F. & Riccaboni, Massimo, 2001. "Technological change and network dynamics: Lessons from the pharmaceutical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 485-508, March.
- D'Adderio, Luciana, 2001. "Crafting the virtual prototype: how firms integrate knowledge and capabilities across organisational boundaries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1409-1424, December.
- Achilladelis, Basil & Schwarzkopf, Albert & Cines, Martin, 1990. "The dynamics of technological innovation: The case of the chemical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-34, February.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:93. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
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.