Global firms often attempt to utilize modular product architectures to ease the distribution of project work among subsidiaries. However, empirical findings on the effectiveness of this approach are mixed. Seeking to clarify this matter, we investigate the conditions under which modular product platform use is associated with cross‐subsidiary distribution of project work. Through an in‐depth case study of a global corporation, we find that a firm’s ability to leverage modular product platforms for distributing project work is positively associated with project interface match (i.e., the extent to which meeting the requirements of a derivative project does not entail modifications of the interfaces embedded in the firm’s modular product platforms). However, this association is attenuated, and eventually muted, by the project technical manager’s related technical experience (i.e., the manager’s personal experience with the technical solution addressing a focal project’s customer requirements). Such attenuation effect originates because lower levels of project interface match do not necessarily imply greater expected project coordination effort. Such expectation is reduced to the extent that the technical project manager has related technical experience. Triangulation of qualitative insights from four embedded cases with a proprietary database of 97 projects supports our contention. These findings contribute to the literatures on product and organizational modularity, distributed work, and project management.

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Production and Operations Management
Department of Technology and Operations Management

Salvador, F., & Madiedo Montanez, J.P. (2020). Enabling globally distributed projects: effects of project interface match and related technical experience. Production and Operations Management. doi:10.1111/poms.13292