*Call for Papers for a Special Issue Strategic Modularity and the
Architecture of the Multinational Firm*

Submission Deadline: October 14, 2011

Guest Editors: Gerald McDermott, University of South Carolina

Ram Mudambi, Temple University Ronaldo Parente, Rutgers University-Camden

A consistent trend over the last several decades has been the global
disaggregation of the value chain with the consequent increase in the extent
and value of transactions across firm boundaries. This has enhanced the
importance of managing the firm’s internal and external linkages. Successful
management of these interfaces can nurture and sustain open innovation
systems, value-enhancing cooperative relationships and organizational
learning. In contrast, ineffective management can result in “hollowing out”
whereby firm survival is put into question.

Firm architecture may be defined as how decision-making subunits are
organized together within the organization (Sah and Stiglitz, 1986). One
perspective on firm architecture is that of modularity: by standardizing
interfaces between decision-making agents, firms can improve their
capabilities in terms of learning and innovation. This is based on the idea
that such processes facilitate the implementation of open systems and result
in improved communication allowing for superior knowledge transfer and
integration. An alternative view is that the standardization inherent in
modularity increases the risk that firm’s distinctive capabilities are
outsourced. Further, it may reduce the ability of the firm to interact with
a diversity of partners and can be especially deleterious if the firm wishes
to remain open to new groups, influences and sources of knowledge.

These two contrasting perspectives draw on variety of literatures including
social network theory, organizational economics and organizational learning.
Analyzing and assessing these perspectives addresses crucial questions in
the design and architecture of the firm. The questions raised apply with
particular force the multinational enterprise (MNE) that is, by its very
nature, a networked firm. The MNE creates and captures value, in the main,
through superior architecture, using its network to integrate knowledge from
a diversity of agents, organizations and countries. So how do firms learn?
The auto industry is just one of several major industry contexts for the
study of variation in the diffusion and creation of knowledge and practices.
The industry has been educated for over 30 years in the virtues of the
Toyota production systems including tiered supplier networks, modularity and
lean production. Yet research increasingly suggests that there has been
great variation in the implementation of so-called best practices, a lack of
modularity and a dysfunctionality of supplier networks. At the same time, we
find unexpected roles being played by non-market actors, such as
universities, training centers and technology institutes.Some illustrative
research themes covered by this special issue are presented below:  How
does modularity and certification promote learning and knowledge
transfer?  Under
what conditions would firms benefit from combined diffusion of modular

and international certification systems (ISO) and when would they not, and
why?  There is a notion that MNEs can set up high end manufacturing systems
virtually anywhere

in the world. What are the conditions for background linkages to provide new

What are the avenues for suppliers to gain new knowledge and designs?

 How would the degree of standardization of modular systems be measured and
how would it affect the optimal architecture of the firm?

 Has value chain disaggregation and focus on specialized activities
actually simply led to the externalization of costs by the final good
producers (like assemblers and brand owners) onto the suppliers?

 To what degree and in which ways do we find variation across or within
countries in the organizational and institutional constellations that are
shaping and governing deverticalization and the new forms of learning? How
have inter-firm networks and local institutions adapted to pressures for
specialization and knowledge acquisition with the growth of cross-border
value chains? Are patterns emerging that appear to offer superior
competitive advantages for domestic and foreign firms alike?

*Deadlines and Submission Instructions*

The deadline for submission of papers is October 14, 2011. More information
on the special issue as well as guidelines for authors appear at the GSJ

*Review Process*

Papers will be reviewed following the regular Global Strategy Management
Journal double-blind review process.

*More Information:*

For additional information, please contact of the following special issue
editors: - Gerald McDermott, University of South Carolina,
[log in to unmask] - Ram Mudambi, Temple University,
[log in to unmask] - Ronaldo Parente, Rutgers University-Camden,
[log in to unmask] - For questions about submitting to the special
issue contact the GSJ managing editor, Lois Gast

[log in to unmask]
Ram Mudambi
Professor and Perelman Senior Research Fellow
Fox School of Business, Temple University
Philadelphia PA 19122, USA
Associate Editor, Global Strategy Journal

Ram Mudambi
Professor and Perelman Senior Research Fellow
Fox School of Business, Temple University
Philadelphia PA 19122, USA
Associate Editor, Global Strategy Journal

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