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When do modular dominant designs emerge? A theoretical framework

Anna Cabigiosu

No 5, Working Papers from Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia

Abstract: We know that dominant designs affect firmsÕ competitive advantage and firms need guidelines to predict which type of dominant design is more likely to emerge. But while theories about dominant design identify the forces that in general predict the emergence of dominant designs, we still lack studies that specifically address the issue of when modular architectures become dominant. This is a relevant research question because scholars have shown that the rise of modular architectures can greatly affect industry dynamics and firmsÕ competitive advantage. This study creates a bridge between dominant design and modularity literature and develops a framework that identifies the forces and industry characteristics that help predicting the emergence of a modular dominant design. Interestingly enough, while modularity literature argues that firms develop modular products to reduce product complexity, this contribute suggests that modular architectures become dominant when technology is well known and with a moderated level of complexity, thus somehow limiting the power of modularity. Also the study identifies the conditions under which multiple stakeholders contemporarily select a modular architecture and emphasizes the role of firms producing core components.

Keywords: dominant design; product modularity; product architecture; standards (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O33 O32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-05
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