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Title:Products and organizations, mirrors in a funhouse: three essays on the mirroring hypothesis
Author(s):Liu, Chih I
Director of Research:Mahoney, Joseph T.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mahoney, Joseph T.; Miller, Douglas J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bercovitz, Janet E.L.; Somaya, Deepak
Department / Program:Business Administration
Discipline:Business Administration
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mirroring hypothesis
Technology management
Product development
Abstract:Much of the contemporary management literature on modularity implicitly assumes that increased product modularity is associated with advantageous increases in organizational modularity. Known as the “mirroring hypothesis,” this postulated relationship is the basis of prescriptions in favor of increasingly modular product design, despite inconclusive empirical evidence. The three essays in this dissertation seek to advance the extant literature on the mirroring hypothesis in the following ways: Essay one presents a systematic review of this fragmented literature. Specifically, this review finds that the extant literature currently contains inconsistent interpretations of modularity, as well as inconsistent conceptualizations of mirroring. Thus, debates on the mirroring hypothesis often amount to unproductive arguments over different things. Essay two puts forth a theoretical framework to explore mirroring between product and organization at the within-firm level. The proposed theory maintains that mirroring is contingent on the level of architectural knowledge, which correlates with a set of observable constructs. Essay three empirically tests the proposition that mirroring between product and organization is also contingent on the demand characteristics of the target customers. Using a sample constructed from the computer systems integration industry, I found empirical support for the proposed demand-side contingencies on mirroring. Research on the mirroring hypothesis has made important contributions to our understanding of the interactions between technology and organization. However, the extant narratives of mirroring in fact encompass distinct causal mechanisms interacting across multiple units of analysis. As this dissertation research shows, the structural correspondence between product and organization is like mirrors in a funhouse – there are many mirrors; and many of the mirrors are distorted.
Issue Date:2015-07-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Chih Liu
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:August 201

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