Management Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Weaving insights from the study of technology, operations, and organizational theory, we examine factors that underlie decisions about product product architecture. The general principles that determine the composition and interdependency between the components that make a product have largely been relegated to the engineering literature. However, our preliminary results from a Wharton-SMU study of product architecture in the imagining industry suggest several overlooked factors that play an important role in determining product architecture and consequently – firm performance. We suggest that product architecture decisions are far from being the exclusive domain of engineers. Using a sample of firms and products from the imaging sector, we distinguish between the engineering product architecture and perceived product architecture and note that they can be decoupled. Second, we seek to determine how firm choices regarding the design architecture can be mapped explained using variables such as firm prestige and customer sophistication.


product architecture, strategy, cognition



Date Posted: 27 November 2017