Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2277795
 


 



Hidden Structure: Using Network Methods to Map Product Architecture


Carliss Y. Baldwin


Harvard Business School, Finance Unit

Alan MacCormack


Harvard Business School

John Rusnak


Harvard Business School

July 25, 2013

Harvard Business School Finance Working Paper No. 13-093

Abstract:     
In this paper, we describe an operational methodology for characterising the architecture of technical systems and demonstrate its application to a sample of software releases. Our methodology is based on network graphs and allows us to identify define three fundamental architectural patterns, which we label core-periphery, multi-core, and hierarchical. Applying our methodology to a sample of 1,286 software releases from 17 applications, we find that 67-89% of releases possess a “core-periphery” architecture under our classification scheme. This architecture is characterized by having a single dominant cyclic group (the Core) that is large relative to other cyclic groups and above a threshold with respect to system size. We find that the size of the Core varies widely, even for systems that perform the same function. These differences appear to be associated with different models of development — open, distributed organizations develop systems with smaller Cores, while closed, co-located organizations develop systems with larger Cores. Our findings represent a first step in establishing some “stylized facts” about the fine-grained structure of large, real-world technical systems.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: Product Design, Architecture, Modularity, Software, Dominant Designs

JEL Classification: D23, L22, L23, M11, O31, O34, P13

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Date posted: June 13, 2013 ; Last revised: July 30, 2013

Suggested Citation

Baldwin, Carliss Y. and MacCormack, Alan and Rusnak, John, Hidden Structure: Using Network Methods to Map Product Architecture (July 25, 2013). Harvard Business School Finance Working Paper No. 13-093. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2277795 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2277795

Contact Information

Carliss Y. Baldwin (Contact Author)
Harvard Business School, Finance Unit ( email )
Boston, MA 02163
United States
Alan MacCormack
Harvard Business School ( email )
Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
John Rusnak
Harvard Business School ( email )
Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
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