Modularity Design Rules for Architecture Development: Theory, Implementation, and Evidence from the Development of the Renault–Nissan Alliance “Common Module Family” Architecture

Ron Sanchez*, Tomoatsu Shibata

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this paper, we propose a set of rules for developing modular architectures. We first consider the well-known concept of “Design Rules” advanced by Baldwin and Clark. We then propose a broader conceptualization called “Modularity Design Rules” that is derived from later studies of the strategic, managerial, and organizational processes that must also be undertaken to implement successful modular development projects. We elaborate the critical role that the proposed Modularity Design Rules play in strategically grounding, organizing, and managing modular architecture development processes. We also identify key roles that top management must fulfill in supporting implementation of the proposed rules. We then provide evidence in support of the proposed Modularity Design Rules through a case study of the Renault–Nissan Alliance’s successful development and use of a modular “Common Module Family” architecture between 2009 and 2014. We then suggest some important implications of the Modularity Design Rules for open innovation processes in new product development
Original languageEnglish
Article number242
JournalJournal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity
Issue number4
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Design rules
  • Architectures
  • Modularity
  • Product development

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