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The formation and operation of modular organization: A case study on Haier’s “market-chain” reform


The concept of modularity can be applied not only to complex product system design, but also to business system interpretation and design. However, the amount of literature on modular organization is much less than that on product modularity. Based upon a case study on Haier’s reengineered business-process system after the “market-chain” reform, this paper examines the course of its process decomposition to form a prototype of modular organization, and further analyzes the evolution of the three key factors in the design rules, which make the independent modules interact with others to form a complex system. The study shows that a system will gain strategic flexibility when more business units in service supplying and product manufacturing are treated as modules of the firm. Meanwhile, a system will become more complex when the number and variety of modules increase, which in turn induces the evolution in the process of the modular organization’s decomposition and integration.


模块化思想不仅可用于复杂产品系统的设计, 也可用来解释或指导企业业务活动的组织。 当前有关组织模块化的研究明显弱于产品模块化设计的研究。 以海尔集团 “市场链” 再造前后的内部流程系统作为案例研究对象, 在考察其流程系统由职能集中或统一走向模块化解构后, 从业务运作过程中拥有自主性的流程模块如何与相邻的其他子系统互动的角度, 详细分析了有助于实现流程模块化集结的 “设计规则三要素” 及其演变, 由此探讨了模块化组织模式的形成及运作特点。 研究显示, 将提供服务与制造产品的单位一并作为企业业务组织的模块单元, 使整个系统可以在多样化的模块构成中增强战略柔性。 而随着系统构成要素和类别的增多, 系统运行的复杂性也增大, 从而模块化解构与集结的过程更表现出演化的特点。


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Correspondence to Fengbin Wang.

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Translated and revised from Guanli Shijie 맜理世界 (Management World), 2008, (4): 122–139

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Wang, F., Chen, G. & Li, D. The formation and operation of modular organization: A case study on Haier’s “market-chain” reform. Front. Bus. Res. China 2, 621–654 (2008).

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