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Modularity: Implications for Strategy and Operations

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Operations & Production Management

The editors of International Journal of Operations & Production Management (IJOPM) intend to publish a special issue of the journal on the subject of modularity and its impact upon strategy and operations within both manufacturing and service organisations.

Baldwin & Clark (1997, p. 84) describe modularity as “building a complex product or process from smaller subsystems that can be designed independently yet function together as a whole”, whilst  Sanchez (2002, p. 1), adopting a more holistic view, notes that “the benefits of modular thinking extend well beyond product strategies and include new approaches to creating more flexible organisations, improving management of supply chains and outsourcing, defining and managing key knowledge assets and strategically focusing organisational learning.” This special issue of IJOPM will seek to examine the myriad of issues that together form the basis of modularity and modularization. The number of papers relating to modularization has increased significantly during the last decade as academics and practitioners have sought to develop frameworks and concepts that underpin and describe the modular paradigm. The purpose of this special issue will be to provide further insights and to develop greater understanding of contemporary issues within the field. Suitable themes for this special issue include, but are not limited to:

  • Strategic modularity – what strategies are organisations adopting and how might strategies differ between organisations?
  • Operational modularity – the emphasis here may focus upon the differences between  modular and non-modular operations or simply upon issues relating to the implementation or operation of the modular approach
  • Service modularity – applications of modular principles and practices within service environments
  • Organisational modularity – reflecting upon the impact that modularity has upon organisational structures, employee relations and the characteristics of work organisation
  • Supply chain modularity – examining how modular supply chains may differ from more traditional forms of supply chains in terms of power distribution, trust, transparency and value creation. Alternatively papers may report upon the nature and scope of modular supply chains
  • Innovation issues – papers may examine whether modularity harnesses or impedes innovation
  • Costs of modularity – difficulties relating to the introduction and/or development of modules
  • Modularity and Mass customization – the emphasis of such submissions should centre upon the  way in which modularity accommodates mass customization
  • Procurement issues associated with modularity – papers may examine the changes necessary to accommodate module rather than parts procurement.
  • Development of interface protocols

Submission guidelines

  • All methodological approaches are equally welcome
  • This call is open and competitive. Papers submitted will go through a double blind peer review process
  • IJOPM is essentially an empirical journal and therefore it is expected that papers will contain an empirical component that involves engagement with the real world of operations management practice to gather data and test ideas.  This excludes modelling papers which merely use some real data but do not test the models in real life settings
  • Submitted papers must be based on original material and must not be under consideration by any other journal or outlet
  • The editors will select up to six papers to be included in this special issue, but other papers submitted may be published in subsequent issues of IJOPM

The guest editor of this special issue would be happy to discuss ideas for papers and can be contacted by email:
Desmond Doran [email protected]

The deadline for submission is 1st July 2008

Guest editor

Please send submissions via e-mail to:

Dr Desmond Doran
Kingston Business School, UK
[email protected]


Baldwin, C. and Clark, K. (1997), "Managing in the age of modularity", Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct, pp. 84-93

Sanchez, R. (2002), "Designing Strategic Flexibility into your products and processes", Perspectives for Managers, No. 88, May, pp. 1-4