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Conference Paper

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Research on technological innovation and product development has long recognized the importance of product architecture, and many scholars have explored its relationship to the organizational structure of the product development process. Product architecture, in turn, has long encompassed both the allocation of functionality to components and the pattern of linkages between them. In this paper, we forge new connections among these established ideas by examining them as two pairs of dual relationships. First, we draw attention to the duality between components and interfaces. While innovation and product development researchers have historically emphasized the partitioning of products and systems into components, economic research on product compatibility standards focuses on the definition of the interfaces. We identify a small but growing body of work that bridges these communities, and suggest opportunities to strengthen the ties between them. Second, we examine the duality between technological and organizational architecture. This relationship has been explored under the heading of the mirroring hypothesis, but there exists a distinct literature on organization design that could serve as a natural counterpoint to the literature on product design. We propose to view these two dualities as orthogonal. This perspective reveals a fourth quadrant that concerns organizational interfaces -- that is, relationships at the boundaries of organizational units, including firms. Here the literature is more diverse and even less integrated with the core concepts of architecture in complex systems, but it is also where we see the most intriguing possibilities for theory development and empirical investigation.


Computer Sciences | Management Information Systems

Research Areas

Information Systems and Management


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City or Country


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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