The Misalignement of product architecture and organizational structure in complex product development
Abstract from authors :
Product architecture knowledge is typically embedded in the communication patterns of established development organizations. While this enables the development of products using the existing architecture, it hinders the organization’s ability to implement novel architectures, especially for complex products. Structured methods addressing this issue are lacking, as previous research has studied complex product development from two separate perspectives : product architecture and organizational structure. Our research integrates these viewpoints with a structured approach to study how design interfaces in the product architecture map onto communication patterns within the development organization. We investigate how organizational and system boundaries, design interface strength, indirect interactions, and system modularity impact the alignment of design interfaces and team interactions. We hypothesize and test how these factors explain the existence of the following cases : (1) known design interfaces not addressed by team interactions, and (2) observed team interactions not predicted by design interfaces. Our results offer important insights to managers dealing with interdependences across organizational and functional boundaries. In particular, we show how boundary effects moderate the impact of design interface strength and indirect team interactions, and are contingent on system modularity. The research uses data collected from a large commercial aircraft engine development process.
Key words : product architecture ; product development organizations ; technical communication ; design structure matrix ; statistical network analysis
History : Accepted by Karl Ulrich, technological innovation, product development, and entrepreneurship ; received July 23, 2002. This paper was with the authors 13 1/2 months for 3 revisions.