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

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Title: Modular designs and integrating practices: managing collaboration through coordination and cooperation
Author(s): Tee, R
Davies, A
Whyte, JK
Item Type: Journal Article
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.
Publication Date: 24-Jul-2018
Date of Acceptance: 21-Jul-2018
ISSN: 0048-7333
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal / Book Title: Research Policy
Copyright Statement: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. This manuscript is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence
Keywords: 1503 Business And Management
Science Studies
Publication Status: Published online
Embargo Date: 2020-01-24
Online Publication Date: 2018-07-24
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering

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