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Cover imageWithin the last few two decades, the car industry has shown a steady increase of vehicle development outsourcing and a shift of both item development jobs and knowledge from carmakers to vendors. This trend has grown the interest toward product modularity as something to help relieve the integration of external resources of innovation but there is however contradictory evidence in regards to the benefits of modularity in inter-firm control within the automotive industry. More over, although modularity literature considers standard interfaces one of the constitutive aspects of modularity and an easy method for easing design outsourcing, few studies have reviewed the genesis and the micro-dynamics of this interfaces definition procedure. Being fill this research space, this report targets exactly how assemblers and companies define the component-vehicle interfaces in element co-development jobs. This study adopts a “quasi-experimental design strategy” evaluating two comparable vehicle component co-development projects carried out by the exact same first-tier provider with two different automakers. Underneath the ceteris paribus problems defined by the analysis design, the empirical research produced from the evaluation regarding the two jobs demonstrates that, in a different way from just what modularity concept promises: the screen meaning procedure is neither technologically determined nor the simple consequence of item architectural choices; the OEMs as well as the provider's capabilities, degree of straight integration, understanding and strategic focus drive the partitioning for the design and manufacturing jobs, the interfaces meaning procedure, as well as the selection of the inter-firm control components. Moreover, while component modularity and design outsourcing are believed as suits in modularity literature, our conclusions declare that they could act as substitutes and therefore are instead difficult to combine.


► We analyze just how component companies and automakers determine component-vehicle interfaces. ► Adopting a “quasi-experimental design approach” we compare two component development tasks. ► Holding the item design and technology continual, interface traits and control modes diverge dramatically in the two instances. ► Automakers integration level, knowledge and strategy shape interfaces and co-development methods. ► Component modularity and design outsourcing work as substitutes and therefore are tough to combine.


  • Component modularity;
  • Interfaces;
  • Auto industry;
  • Additional innovation;
  • Inter-firm control;
  • Buyer–supplier connections



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