Modular designs and integrating practices: managing collaboration through coordination and cooperation

Tee, Richard, Davies, Andrew and Whyte, Jennifer (2019) Modular designs and integrating practices: managing collaboration through coordination and cooperation. Research Policy, 48 (1). pp. 51-61. ISSN 0048-7333

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Abstract

Collaboration in large-scale projects introduces challenges involving both coordination (the ability to collaborate) as well as cooperation (the willingness to do so). Existing research has shown how modular designs can improve coordination by locating interdependencies within rather than between different modules. Based on an in-depth case study of collaboration in a large-scale infrastructure project, our study highlights an effect of modularity on collaboration that previously has been overlooked. Specifically, we show that while modular designs may help overcome coordination challenges by reducing interdependencies between modules, they can in turn hamper collaboration by emphasizing specialization within modules. Therefore, though existing work typically perceives modularity and integration as opposites, we clarify how they can also act as complements. In particular, we show how firms need to complement modular designs with integrating practices that stimulate cooperation. Overall, we contribute to the literature on collaboration and modularity by explaining when and how organizations can combine modularity and integration.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Joy Blake
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2019 14:07
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2020 16:27
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/87490

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