Modular Upgradability in Consumer Electronics: Economic and Environmental Implications

13 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2015

See all articles by Vishal Agrawal

Vishal Agrawal

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business

Atalay Atasu

Georgia Institute of Technology - Sustainability

Sezer Ulku

Georgetown University McDonough School of Business; Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business

Date Written: May 1, 2015

Abstract

Modularly upgradable product designs have been advocated to offer environmental and economic advantages; however, they are not commonly used in the consumer electronics industry. In this article, we investigate the economic and environmental benefits and challenges of modular upgradability for consumer electronics. From an economic point of view, we posit that the limited adoption of modular upgradability in consumer electronics is due to various demand-, technology-, and competition-related issues. From an environmental point of view, we posit that modularly upgradable product designs may not necessarily lead to superior environmental outcomes. To reach meaningful conclusions regarding the environmental benefits of modular upgradability, one needs to understand how product architecture affects demand, production, and consumption patterns, which arise from endogenous consumer and manufacturer choices. It is also important to take into account that modular upgradability may have potentially differentiated effects in the production, consumption, and post-use phases of the lifecycle.

Suggested Citation

Agrawal, Vishal and Atasu, Atalay and Ulku, Sezer, Modular Upgradability in Consumer Electronics: Economic and Environmental Implications (May 1, 2015). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Forthcoming; Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Research Paper No. 2015-14; Georgetown McDonough School of Business Research Paper No. 2690286. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2690286

Vishal Agrawal

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business ( email )

3700 O Street NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Atalay Atasu (Contact Author)

Georgia Institute of Technology - Sustainability ( email )

800 West Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30308
United States

Sezer Ulku

Georgetown University McDonough School of Business ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Georgetown University - Robert Emmett McDonough School of Business ( email )

3700 O Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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