Empirical analysis of evolution of product architecture: Fanuc numerical controllers from 1962 to 1997

Tomoatsu Shibata, Masaharu Yano, Fumio Kodama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Almost all of the existing studies on product architecture adopt the research framework of comparing the advantages and disadvantages of modular architecture with those of integral architecture. In this paper, we attempt to propose an evolutionary perspective of product architecture. In order to consider the evolution of a product architecture, we analyze the history of Fanuc numerical controllers regarding the evolution of NC architecture from 1962 to 1997. Then we can derive the following hypotheses concerning the evolution of the product architecture. First, the product architecture basically evolves from the integral architecture to the module architecture, and then in the direction of open architecture. Second, in specific circumstances this change does not always progress in the same direction. When epoch-making technology, such as the microprocessor, is incorporated into the product system the direction of the progress in architecture may be reversed from the module to the integral.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-31
Number of pages19
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Integral architecture
  • Module architecture
  • NC (numerical control)
  • Product architecture
  • Technical progress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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