Toward a General Modular Systems Theory and Its Application to Interfirm Product Modularity

14914 WordsMar 16, 201260 Pages
Toward a General Modular Systems Theory and Its Application to Interfirm Product Modularity Author(s): Melissa A. Schilling Reviewed work(s): Source: The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 312-334 Published by: Academy of Management Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/259016 . Accessed: 26/03/2012 07:35 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new…show more content…
Authors have even noted trends toward increasing modularity (particularly in the United States) in educational curricula, architecture, literature, and music (Blair, 1988). Modularity exponentially increases the number of possible configurations achievable from a given set of inputs, greatly increasing the flexibility of a system. However, research also indicates that not all systems migrate toward increasing modularity; some appear to follow a path toward increasing integration. In product systems, for example, sets of components that once were easily mixed and matched may sometimes be bundled into a single integrated package that does not allow (or that discourages) substitution of other components. Many commonly used software applications are now bundled into "software suites" that promote seam- 2000 Schilling 313 less integration. Although they do not prohibit using other vendor components, they discourage it by offering dramatically improved performance through the combination of the particular set of applications. Even bicycle componentryonce typically sold as individual components, such as brakes, gear sets, cranks, and derailleurs-now is sold predominantly in integrated component bundles that may not be mixed and matched. In organizational systems, researchers have noted that whereas in many industries firms other industries appear to be disaggregating, (e.g., banking and health care) are characterized by increasing

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