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ICC SI – The Power of Modularity Today: 20 Years of "Design Rules”

  • 1.  ICC SI – The Power of Modularity Today: 20 Years of "Design Rules”

    Posted 08-08-2020 14:50


    Call for Papers for a Special Issue of

    Industrial and Corporate Change


    The Power of Modularity Today: 20 Years of "Design Rules"


    Submission Deadline:  March 31st 2021.



    Guest Editors


    Stefano Brusoni:  ETH Zürich

    Joachim Henkel:  Technical University of Munich (TUM)

    Michael Jacobides: London Business School (LBS)

    Samina Karim:  Northeastern University

    Alan MacCormack:  Harvard Business School (HBS)

    Phanish Puranam:  INSEAD

    Melissa Schilling:  New York University (NYU)


    This year marks 20 years since Carliss Baldwin and Kim Clark (2000) published their landmark book, "Design Rules – The Power of Modularity."  In that time, the book has had a profound impact on organization theory, competitive strategy, and innovation research, as well as on technical studies of system architecture and performance. The theory of modular design and industrial evolution, as presented by the authors, has been used to analyze and explain a multitude of different phenomena, ranging from the structure of organizations, the design of technical artifacts, competition within and across industry boundaries, to the ability to create and capture economic value through innovation.


    Organizational studies have drawn extensively on the concepts presented in "Design Rules" in a variety of ways.   Modularity theory helps to explain why and how the boundaries of the firm are designed (Brusoni et al., 2001; Jacobides and Billinger, 2006; Baldwin, 2008) as well as the internal structure of organizations (Sanchez and Mahoney, 1996; Brusoni and Prencipe, 2001; Langlois, 2002; MacCormack et al., 2006; 2012; Karim, 2006; Puranam 2018). Scholars have explored the "mirroring hypothesis" (Henderson and Clark, 1990; Sanchez and Mahoney, 1996; MacCormack et al, 2014; Colfer and Baldwin, 2016; Tee, 2019), which conjectures that the "organizational ties within a project, firm, or group of firms (e.g., communication, collocation, employment) will correspond to the technical dependencies in the work being performed".  Scholars have also fruitfully applied the tool of design structure matrices highlighted in the book to the study of organizational and technical designs, as well as the degree of alignment between them (Browning, 2001; Sosa et al, 2004; Eppinger and Browning, 2012; Sosa et al, 2103; Baldwin et al., 2014).


    Relatedly, although from a different perspective, Baldwin and Clark's theory of modularity has informed research on industry structure, in particular on the vertical integration and disintegration of industries (Jacobides, 2005; Fixson and Park, 2008; Luo et al., 2012; Kapoor, 2013), the division of labor between firms (Schilling, 2000; Sturgeon, 2002), as well as the nature of business ecosystems and strategies for platform competition (Gawer and Cusumano, 2002; Iansiti and Levien, 2004; Baldwin, 2012; Waltl et al., 2012; Parker et al, 2016; Jacobides et al., 2018; Cusumano et al, 2019).


    In the field of strategy research, scholars have employed the concept of modularity to explain different business models (Aversa et al., 2015), competitive dynamics in industries (Garud and Kumaraswamy, 1993), varying levels of product variety (Matutes and Regibeau, 1988; Garud and Kumaraswamy, 1995), and the development of organizational capabilities (Jacobides, 2006).


    With respect to the study of innovation, "Design Rules" built upon earlier contributions on the design of complex systems, developing a more comprehensive framework upon which future work could be based. Beginning with the decomposition and development of technical systems (Simon, 1962; Parnas, 1972; Arthur, 2009), scholars have shown how modularity facilitates innovation (Langlois and Robertson, 1992; Baldwin and Clark, 2006a; Baldwin et al., 2014) and user innovation in particular (von Hippel and Finkelstein, 1979; Baldwin and von Hippel, 2011); but can also invite competitive imitation (Pil and Cohen, 2006; Ethiraj and Levinthal, 2008).  Researchers have shown how the concept of modularity can be used strategically in new product development (Ulrich and Eppinger, 1994; Ulrich, 1995; Krishnan and Ulrich, 2001; MacCormack, 2001; Tee, 2019; Windrum et al., 2019), knowledge management (Carlile, 2004), and the process of technological search (Fleming, 2001).  Finally, work has explored the subtle interplay between modularity and intellectual property, investigating its impact on a firm's ability to capture value from innovation (Jacobides et al., 2006; Quan and Chesbrough, 2010; Henkel et al., 2013; Baldwin and Henkel, 2015).


    Today, 20 years after the book was first published, the sequel, "Design Rules: Volume 2: How Technology Shapes Organizations" is nearing completion, with the manuscript published as a series of working papers by Professor Baldwin.  Hence this represents the perfect time to take stock of developments in the field, gathering contributions motivated by the original work, and that use its theoretical and empirical underpinnings to bring new insights and evidence to bear on related topics.


    Goals of the Special Issue


    This Special Issue of Industrial and Corporate Change aims to collect current research building directly or indirectly upon the theories and empirical evidence introduced in "Design Rules: Vol. 1."  Submissions should relate to modularity and its implications for organization, strategy, innovation, system design, and other topics that fit the scope of Industrial and Corporate Change.  Contributions are welcome using a variety of methodological approaches, including theoretical, empirical, case study and archival research.  Possible areas of focus include, but are not limited to:


    A)      Organizational Design

    B)      Competitive Strategy and Game Theory

    C)      Industry Ecosystems and Platforms

    D)      Industry Evolution and Dynamics

    E)       The Management of Innovation and Technology

    F)       New Product (and Service) Development

    G)     System Architecture, Design and Evolution

    H)      Manufacturing, Operations and Supply Chain Management


    Deadline, Submission and Review Process


    Submissions should be prepared in accordance with ICC's author guidelines found on the website.


    The guest editors will screen submissions to ensure appropriate scope and relevance.  Manuscripts that pass this initial screen will be sent to reviewers on an accelerated timeline.  Manuscripts that do not pass this screen will be eligible for submission to a regular issue of ICC.


    Submission Deadline:  January 31st 2021.

    Reviewer Comments to Authors:  April 31st 2021.

    Deadline for Final version of Paper:  July 31st 2021.

    Anticipated Publication Date:  Fall 2021.


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    Prof. Dr. Joachim Henkel

    Technical University of Munich

    TUM School of Management

    Dr. Theo Schöller-Stiftungslehrstuhl für Technologie- und Innovationsmanagement

    Arcisstr. 21, 80333 Munich, Germany

    Tel.: +49-89-28925741, Fax: +49-89-28925742 ; henkel@wi.tum.de

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