Research Insights: A look in the mirror.
The “mirroring hypothesis” of product management holds that increased product modularity is associated with an advantageous increase in organizational modularity. In other words, the structure of an organization comes to mirror that of its product. This should result, in a reduced need for coordination among component developers and bringing other managerial benefits. However, despite considerable enthusiasm about the hypothesis among management scholars, empirical research has been inconsistent in supporting this relationship: some industries see benefits from mirroring, while others do not.
Saunders assistant professor Ezekiel Leo offers a corrective on mirroring in his article, “Toward a Contingent Model of Mirroring Between Product and Organization: A Knowledge Management Perspective,” published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management. While confirming the benefits of mirroring, Leo shows how its success is contingent on a variety of factors, and he offers seven propositions for when conditions are or are not favorable for mirroring.
“How do we realize the benefits of modularity without being constrained by the limitations?” asks Leo. “The practitioner has always been aware that modularity is not perfect, so my work is more of an adjustment among academics. Modularity doesn’t solve everything.”
View paper published in The Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM), October 28, 2019: Toward a Contingent Model of Mirroring Between Product and Organization: A Knowledge Management Perspective.