Linking Cyclicality and Product Quality

39 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2012 Last revised: 11 Jan 2013

Date Written: December 22, 2012


This paper examines the impact of architectural decisions on the level of defects in a product. We view products as collections of components linked together to work as an integrated whole. Previous work has established modularity (how decoupled a component is from other product components) as a critical determinant of defects, and we confirm its importance. Yet our study also provides empirical evidence for a relation between product quality and cyclicality (the extent to which a component depends on itself via other product components). We find cyclicality to be a determinant of quality that is distinct from, and no less important than, modularity. Extending this main result, we show how the cyclicality–quality relation is affected by the centrality of a component in a cycle and the distribution of a cycle across product modules. These findings, which are based on analysis of open source software development projects, have implications for the study and design of complex systems.

Keywords: Product architecture, Cycles, Modules, Iterative problem solving, Defects, Open-source Software Development, Design Iterations, Defect Proneness

Suggested Citation

Sosa, Manuel and Mihm, Jurgen and Browning, Tyson R., Linking Cyclicality and Product Quality (December 22, 2012). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2012/137/TOM, Available at SSRN: or

Manuel Sosa (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

Jurgen Mihm

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

Tyson R. Browning

Neeley School of Business, TCU ( email )

Fort Worth, TX 76129
United States


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics