Carliss Y. Baldwin

32 Results


Bottlenecks, Modules and Dynamic Architectural Capabilities

Large technical systems made up of many interoperable components are becoming more common every day. Many of these systems, like tablet computers, smartphones, and the Internet, are based on digital information technologies. Others, like the electrical grid, the financial payments system, and all modern factories, rely on digital technologies. How do firms create and capture value in large technical systems? To answer this question, the author argues, it is first necessary to develop ways of describing such systems. One useful lens is architecture. Architectural capabilities are an important subset of dynamic capabilities that provide managers with the ability to see a complex technical system in an abstract way and change the system's structure by rearranging its components. Purposeful architectural change can then be used to create and capture value at different points in the technical system. Furthermore, value-enhancing architectural change arises through the effective management of bottlenecks and modules in conjunction with the firm's organizational boundaries and property rights. Read More

Visualizing and Measuring Software Portfolio Architectures: A Flexibility Analysis

Contemporary business environments are constantly evolving, requiring continual changes to the software applications that support a business. Moreover, during recent decades, the sheer number of applications has grown significantly, and they have become increasingly interdependent. Many companies find that managing applications and implementing changes to their application portfolio architecture is increasingly difficult and expensive. Firms need a way to visualize and analyze the modularity of their software portfolio architectures and the degree of coupling between components. In this paper, the authors test a method for visualizing and measuring software portfolio architectures using data of a biopharmaceutical firm's enterprise architecture. The authors also use the measures to predict the costs of architectural change. Findings show, first, that the biopharmaceutical firm's enterprise architecture can be classified as core-periphery. This means that 1) there is one cyclic group (the "Core") of components that is substantially larger than the second largest cyclic group, and 2) this group comprises a substantial portion of the entire architecture. In addition, the classification of applications in the architecture (as being in the Core or the Periphery) is significantly correlated with architectural flexibility. In this case the architecture has a propagation cost of 23 percent, meaning almost one-quarter of the system may be affected when a change is made to a randomly selected component. Overall, results suggest that the hidden structure method can reveal new facts about an enterprise architecture. This method can aid the analysis of change costs at the software application portfolio level. Read More

Modularity and Intellectual Property Protection

Modularity is a means of partitioning technical knowledge about a product or process. The authors investigate the impact of modularity on intellectual property protection by formally modeling the threat of expropriation by agents. The principal has three options to address this threat: doing nothing, licensing the focal IP ex ante, and paying agents to prevent their defection. The principal can influence the value of these options by modularizing the technical system and by hiring clans of agents, thus exploiting relationships among them. The paper also gives examples of how managers arrive at a strategy in practice. Overall, the study contributes to the theory of profiting from innovation in three ways: First, it shows how the innovator's best choice of action against expropriation by agents-doing nothing, licensing, or paying agents-derives from the characteristics of the system, i.e., the share of trustworthy agents, the number of agents, the intensity of competition, the size of clans, the number of modules, and the degree of complementarity. Second, the innovator can use clans and modularity to increase profits, and the paper shows how clans and the modular architecture of the system interact to either reinforce or mitigate each other. Third, social relationships and norms of fairness affect the normative implications of an analysis based on rational choice theory. Implications for managers are also discussed. Read More

Sharing Design Rights: A Commons Approach for Developing Infrastructure

Traditionally, a commons is a natural resource that gives rise to the problem of collective action: Individuals who act alone without consideration for others will arrive at outcomes that are bad for all. Pioneering research by Elinor Ostrom, a scholar of economic governance, has revealed that the claimants to a common pool resource are sometimes able to organize themselves to manage the commons on a day-today basis and to adapt to changing circumstances. In this paper, the authors study the dynamics of a commons organization: In 2006-2007, the Manchester City Council created a commons organization to design a number of new school buildings. The Council had broad decision rights over school design and construction, but rather than delegating those rights to its own staff or to a joint venture, as were the typical practices, the Council gave each school co-equal rights to approve the design so that no building project could go forward unless signed off by both the school and the Council staff. As such, the Council converted the decision-making process from a controlled, centralized style to a commons-based approach. Using the principles of Ostrom's commons theory the authors show that, overall, the commons form of organizing brought with it concomitant risk. This risk, however, was significantly lessened through the creation of a robust commons organization. Read More

Visualizing and Measuring Enterprise Architecture: An Exploratory BioPharma Case

Achieving effective and efficient management of the software application landscape requires an ability to visualize and measure the current status of the enterprise architecture. To a large extent, this huge challenge can be addressed by introducing tools such as enterprise architecture modeling as a means of abstraction. In recent years, Enterprise Architecture (EA) has become an established discipline for business and software application management. Ideally, EA aids the stakeholders of the enterprise to effectively plan, design, document, and communicate IT and business related issues. Unfortunately, though, EA frameworks rarely explicitly state the kinds of analyses that can be performed given a certain model, nor do they provide details on how the analysis should be performed. In this paper, the authors present and test a method based on Design Structure Matrices (DSMs) and classic coupling measures that could be effective in uncovering the hidden structure of an enterprise architecture. The authors perform such a test using data consisting of a total of 407 architecture components and 1,157 dependencies from a biopharmaceutical company (referred to as BioPharma). Findings suggest that this method can reveal new facts about architecture structure on an enterprise level, equal to past results in the initial cases of single software systems such as Linux, Mozilla, Apache, and GnuCash. Read More

Hidden Structure: Using Network Methods to Map System Architecture

All complex systems can be described in terms of their architecture, that is, as a nested hierarchy of subsystems. Despite a wealth of research highlighting the importance of understanding system architecture, however, there is little empirical evidence on the actual architectural patterns observed across large numbers of real world systems. In this paper, the authors developed robust and reliable methods to detect the core components in a complex system, to establish whether these systems possess a core-periphery structure, and to measure important elements of these structures. Overall, the findings represent a first step in establishing some stylized facts about the structure of real-world systems. Read More

Risky Business: The Impact of Property Rights on Investment and Revenue in the Film Industry

Films are a risky business because much more is known about the quality and revenue potential of a film post-production than pre-production. Using rich data on the US film industry, this paper explores variation in property right allocations, investment choices, and film revenues to find empirical support for three predictions based on property rights theory. (1) Studios underinvest in the marketing of independent films relative to studio-financed films. (2) Because of underinvestment, independent films have lower revenues than comparable studio-financed films. (3) If production cost and marketing investment are complementary, underinvestment in marketing harms large-budget films more than small-budget films, making it more likely that large-budget films will be studio-financed. Kuppuswamy and Baldwin's paper may be the first to provide evidence that vertical integration affects the revenue of specific products through its impact on marketing investments in those products. Read More

IP Modularity: Profiting from Innovation by Aligning Product Architecture with Intellectual Property

Firms increasingly practice open innovation, license technology out and in, outsource development and production, and enable users and downstream firms to innovate on their products. However, while such distributed value creation can boost the overall value created, it may create serious challenges for capturing value. This paper argues that in order to optimize value capture from a new product or process, an innovator must manage the artifact's intellectual property (IP) and its modular structure in conjunction. In other words, each module's IP status needs to be defined carefully and its boundaries must be placed accordingly. Fundamentally, IP modularity eliminates incompatibilities between IP rights in a given module, while permitting incompatibilities within the overall system. This in turn allows a firm to "have its cake and eat it too": It can reap the benefits of an open architecture while at the same time reducing the costs of opportunism on the part of suppliers, complementors, and employees. Read More

Five Ways to Make Your Company More Innovative

How do you create a company that unleashes and capitalizes on innovation? HBS faculty experts in culture, customers, creativity, marketing, and the DNA of innovators offer up ideas. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Organization Design for Distributed Innovation

MIT professor Eric von Hippel first coined the term "distributed innovation" to describe a system in which innovation emanates not only from the manufacturer of a product but from many sources including users and rivals. Over the years, systems of distributed innovation—so-called business ecosystems—have become increasingly prevalent in many industries. These entities generally encompass numerous corporations, individuals, and communities that might be individually autonomous but related through their connection with an underlying, evolving technical system. In this paper, prepared for the 1st Organizational Design Conference, held at Harvard Business School in August 2012, HBS professor Carliss Baldwin examines four central themes: 1) Distributed innovation as the unintended consequence of modularity; 2) The advantage of business ecosystems for creative problem-solving; 3) Organizational design of business ecosystems; and 4) Competition and technological innovation in business ecosystems. Overall, Baldwin argues that the potential benefits of distributed innovation must be recognized, and the field of organization design must broaden its traditional focus on the individual firm to encompass this compelling new approach for creating value. Read More

The Impact of Modularity on Intellectual Property and Value Appropriation

Distributed innovation in open systems is an important trend in the modern global economy. In general, distributed innovation in open systems is made possible by the modularity of the underlying product or process. Carliss Y. Baldwin and Joachim Henkel provide a systematic analysis of value appropriation in closed and open modular systems, with implications for managers. Modular systems are made up of components that are highly interdependent within sub-blocks, called modules, and largely independent across those sub-blocks. Despite the technical benefits of modularity, history shows that it is not always straightforward for firms to capture value in a modular system. The paper argues that strategies for capturing value in an open, modular system must be formulated at the module level. But modularity is not a single strategy: it is rather a large set of strategic options and related tactics that can be deployed in different ways depending on the interplay of countervailing forces. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Leveraging Intellectual Property

Many companies lack a coherent policy for maximizing the value of their intellectual property. In this collection from our archives, Harvard Business School faculty offer insights on the importance of IP and how best to protect and use it. Read More

Getting to Eureka!: How Companies Can Promote Creativity

As global competition intensifies, it's more important than ever that companies figure out how to innovate if they are going to maintain their edge, or maintain their existence at all. Six Harvard Business School faculty share insights on the best ways to develop creative workers. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

How Firm Strategies Influence the Architecture of Transaction Networks

In business, an "ecosystem" refers to a group of firms that work together through a series of shared transactions to provide a complex product or service. Using data from the disparate Japanese electronics and automotive sectors, this paper tackles the following questions: Do hierarchies of interfirm transaction networks vary across different ecosystems? What practices explain the difference in hierarchy across these two ecosystems? How do firms' strategies influence hierarchy? And what environmental factors explain the differences in the largest firm's strategies in each ecosystem? Research was conducted by Carliss Y. Baldwin of Harvard Business School and Jianxi Luo, Daniel E. Whitney, and Christopher L. Magee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Read More

The Most Important Management Trends of the (Still Young) Twenty-First Century

HBS Dean Nitin Nohria and faculty look backward and forward at the most important business trends of the young twenty-first century. Read More

Modularity for Value Appropriation--How to Draw the Boundaries of Intellectual Property

Many firms have adopted models of "open innovation," in which they seek ideas from external sources such as university labs, independent entrepreneurs, customers, and other companies. While such a business model has the potential to create value, the inherent intellectual property issues can be sticky. This paper discusses how companies can address these issues by adopting a system of modularity, wherein innovation in one part of a project will not require changes in all the other parts. Research was conducted by Joachim Henkel of Technische Universität München and Harvard Business School professor Carliss Y. Baldwin. Read More

When Open Architecture Beats Closed: The Entrepreneurial Use of Architectural Knowledge

Entrepreneurial firms rich in knowledge but poor in other resources can use superior architectural knowledge of a technical system to gain strategic advantage over larger and better endowed rivals. This paper presents a model and provides examples showing that architectural knowledge can be applied strategically to change a firm's scope and boundaries, make innovations more or less autonomous, and change the span of problems it must solve. Read More

The Mirroring Hypothesis: Theory, Evidence and Exceptions

In its simplest form, the mirroring hypothesis suggests that the organizational patterns of a development project, such as communication links, geographic collocation, and team and firm membership, correspond to the technical patterns of dependency in the system under development. According to the hypothesis, independent, dispersed contributors develop largely modular designs, while richly interacting, collocated contributors develop highly integral designs. Yet many development projects do not conform to the mirroring hypothesis. HBS doctoral graduate Lyra Colfer and professor Carliss Y. Baldwin synthesize observations from a large number of cases that violate the hypothesis to explain when and how development organizations can "break the mirror." Read More

The Architecture of Complex Systems: Do Core-periphery Structures Dominate?

All complex systems can be divided into a nested hierarchy of subsystems. However, not all these subsystems are of equal importance: Some subsystems are core to system performance, whereas others are only peripheral. In this study, HBS professor Carliss Y. Baldwin and coauthors developed methods to detect the core components in a complex software system, establish whether these systems possess a core-periphery structure, and measure important elements of these structures. The general patterns highlight the difficulties a system architect faces in designing and managing such systems. Results represent a first step in establishing stylized facts about the structure of real-world systems. Read More

Modeling a Paradigm Shift: From Producer Innovation to User and Open Collaborative Innovation

We are in the midst of a major paradigm shift: technological trends are causing a change in the way innovation gets done in advanced market economies. In addition to the model of producer-based design—the idea that most important designs for innovations would originate from producers and be supplied to consumers via goods and services that were for sale—two increasingly important models are innovations by single user firms or individuals, and open collaborative innovation projects. Each of these three models represents a different way to organize human effort and investments aimed at generating valuable new innovations. HBS professor Carliss Y. Baldwin and MIT Sloan School of Management professor Eric von Hippel analyze the three models in terms of their technological properties, specifically their design costs and architectures, and their communication requirements. The researchers argue that as design and communication costs decline, single user and open collaborative innovation models will be viable for a steadily wider range of design. These two models will present an increasing challenge to the traditional paradigm of producer-based design—but, when open, they are good for social welfare and should be encouraged by policymakers. Read More

Measuring and Understanding Hierarchy as an Architectural Element in Industry Sectors

In an industry setting, classic supply chains display strict hierarchy, whereas clusters of firms have linkages going in many different directions. Previous theory has often assumed the existence of the hierarchical relationships among firms, and empirical industry studies tend to focus on a single-layer industry, or a two-layer structure comprising buyers and suppliers. And yet, some industries have a multilayer structure with a multistep supply chain. Others comprise a cluster of complementary firms producing different parts of a large system. HBS professor Carliss Y. Baldwin and colleagues use network analysis to study multilayer industries both empirically (in the case of Japan) and theoretically and to explore how industries are organized at the sector level in an attempt to reveal the underlying rules that determine how industry architectures form and change. Read More

The Sciences of Design: Observations on an Emerging Field

This paper examines the sciences of design as an emerging field of study that cuts across disciplinary boundaries. The paper summarizes and synthesizes the positions, reflections, opportunities, and challenges expressed at the first doctoral consortium to explore the topic, held in 2008. It thus provides a useful agenda for clarifying and articulating important strands of this nascent field. Read More

The Architecture of Platforms: A Unified View

Product and system designers have long exploited opportunities to create families of complex artifacts by developing and recombining modular components. An especially common design pattern is associated with the concept of a platform, which Baldwin and Woodard define as a set of stable components that supports variety and evolvability in a system by constraining linkages among the other components. In this paper, the authors shed light on the relationships between platforms and the systems in which they are embedded to better understand and explain firms and industries where platforms play an important role. Read More

Exploring the Duality between Product and Organizational Architectures: A Test of the Mirroring Hypothesis

Products are often said to "mirror" the architectures of the organization from which they come. Is there really a link between a product's architecture and the characteristics of the organization behind it? The coauthors of this working paper chose to analyze software products because of a unique opportunity to examine two different organizational modes for development, comparing open-source with proprietary "closed-source" software. The results have important implications for development organizations given the recent trend toward "open" approaches to innovation and the increased use of partnering in research and development projects. Read More

The Impact of Component Modularity on Design Evolution: Evidence from the Software Industry

What factors should influence the design of a complex system? And what is the impact of choices on both product and organizational performance? These issues are of particular importance in the field of software given how software is developed: Rarely do software projects start from scratch. The authors analyzed the evolution of a commercial software product from first release to its current design, looking specifically at 6 major versions released at varying periods over a 15-year period. These results have important implications for managers, highlighting the impact of design decisions made today on both the evolution and the maintainability of a design in subsequent years. Read More

Competition in Modular Clusters

The last 20 years have witnessed the rise of disaggregated "clusters," "networks," or "ecosystems" of firms in a number of industries, including computers, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals. In these clusters, different firms design and produce the various components of a complex artifact (such as the processor, peripherals, and software of a computer system), and different firms specialize in the various stages of a complex production process. This paper considers the pricing behavior and profitability of these so-called modular clusters. Baldwin and Woodard isolate the offsetting price effects in a model, and show how they might operate in large as well as in small clusters. Read More

Modularity, Transactions, and the Boundaries of Firms: A Synthesis

For the last 30 years economists have used the concepts of "transaction," "transaction cost," and "contract" to illuminate a wide range of phenomena, including vertical integration; the design of employment, debt, and equity contracts; and the structure of industries. These concepts are now deeply embedded in the fields of economics, sociology, business, and law. Theories explain how to choose between different forms of transactional governance. But why does a transaction occur where it does? Without this answer, the forces driving the location of transactions in a system of production remain largely unexplored. This paper explains the location of transactions (and contracts) in a system of production. It also presents a theory of technological change that predicts changes in the location of transactions and therefore in the structure of industries. Read More

From Manufacturing to Design: An Essay on the Work of Kim B. Clark

The interdisciplinary research of economist Kim Clark, former dean of Harvard Business School and now President of Brigham Young University-Idaho, occupies a unique place in management scholarship for three reasons. First, he tended to focus on little known and under-appreciated management groups such as manufacturing managers, product development managers, and product and process architects. Thus, he directly positioned himself outside the "traditional" management disciplines of strategy, finance, marketing, and organizational behavior. Second, he swam against the academic tide by recognizing the power of comparative and longitudinal field studies. Third, he sought frameworks beyond his own field in design theory, the engineering sciences, and finance. This paper reviews his research contributions over almost thirty years. Read More

Architectural Innovation and Dynamic Competition: The Smaller “Footprint” Strategy

To study dynamic competition, Baldwin and Clark build upon a design principle in computer architecture known as Amdahl's Law. The authors show that firms can study the underlying cause-and-effect relationships in a complex architecture in order to identify "bottlenecks." Firms may then redesign the interfaces of key components to make them more modular. They can then outsource more activities without sacrificing performance or cost. As a result, firms can offer competitive products or services, while investing less, and so enjoy an "invested capital advantage" over competitors. Baldwin and Clark explain how the strategy works and then model its impact on competition through successive stages of industry evolution. Read More

How Kayak Users Built a New Industry

Customers have produced some of the most important innovations in industries ranging from oil refining to scientific instruments. But how do user innovations take place? How do they get to market? Professor Carliss Baldwin discusses research into the rodeo kayak industry to understand the world of user innovation. Read More

Exploring the Structure of Complex Software Designs: An Empirical Study of Open Source and Proprietary Code

How does a product's design mirror the organization that develops it, and how does such a dynamic occur? To track the evolution of one design over time, this exploratory study compared software designs developed via different modes of organization-open source versus proprietary development. As it turned out, the architecture of the product developed by a highly distributed team of developers (Linux) was more modular than another product of similar size developed by a co-located team of developers (Mozilla). The study helped reveal potential performance tradeoffs from architectures with different characteristics. Read More

More Than the Sum of Its Parts: The Impact of Modularity on the Computer Industry

The "power of modularity," write HBS Dean Kim Clark and Professor Carliss Baldwin in their new book, rescued the computer industry from a problem of nightmarish proportions and made possible remarkable levels of innovation and growth in a relatively short period of time. Read More