Increasing Complexity of Artifacts and the Role of Product Architecture

Author Name OKUNO Masahiro  (Faculty Fellow, RIETI / The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Economics) /TAKIZAWA Hirokazu  (Fellow, RIETI) /WATANABE Yasunori  (The University of Tokyo Manufacturing Management Research Center)
Creation Date/NO. March 2007 06-J-038
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This paper explains the concept of product architecture in the context of increasing complexity of artifacts. We first explore the process where artifacts have gained complexity. Historically, during the development of human-artifact interaction, it was critical to effectively combine mechanical information processing of artifacts and contextual information processing of humans. Dramatic decreases in mechanical information processing cost due to IT development induced hierarchical subdivision of artifacts. As a result, artifacts now have a modular structure consisting of numerous parts. This brought to the fore the question of how to solve the complicated coordination/integration problem between development of whole product system and that of individual parts. There are two ways of classifying solutions to this problem. On the one hand, there is a distinction between coordination by humans and coordination by product architecture. On the other hand, there is distinction between decentralized coordination through markets and cooperative coordination via organizations or networks.