Professor of Technology and Operations Management
Product architecture knowledge is typically embedded in the communication patterns of established development organizations, which hinders their capability to cope with novel architectures, especially when developing complex products. Yet, structured methods addressing this issue are lacking. Previous research has studied complex product development from two separate perspectives, product architecture and organizational structure.The authors' research combines these two viewpoints into a structured approach, to study how design interfaces in the product architecture map onto communication patterns within the development organization. Specifically, the authors study the following cases: 1) known design interfaces not addressed by team interactions and 2) observed team interactions not predicted by design interfaces.They hypothesize how organizational and system boundaries, system modularity, design interface strength, and indirect interactions impact the alignment of design interfaces and team interactions. This paper is the first to bring together design structure matrix representation and social network methods for statistical modeling and hypothesis testing.The authors' results offer important managerial insights into factors to "watch out for" when dealing with interdependences across organizational and functional boundaries. In particular, they show how the effects of organizational and system boundaries are moderated by system modularity, strength of design interfaces and indirect team interactions. The research uses data collected from a large commercial aircraft engine development process.