The Business of Systems Integration

By Andrea Prencipe; Andrew Davies et al. | Go to book overview

9 The Cognitive Basis of Systems Integration

Redundancy of Context-generating Knowledge

Massimo Paoli

University of Perugia and St Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy


9.1 Introduction

In the last two decades, management literature has mainly focused on such principles as relentless cost controls, lean and flat organization, continuous re-engineering, and continuous rationalization, and a focus on core knowledge. These principles have paved the way to outsourcing and decentralization processes of activities not deemed core, and have led towards mythical hyper-efficient forms of business organization, such as the virtual corporation.

Relying on a totally different approach, the aim of this chapter is to offer some thoughts as to how systems integration can be developed and maintained. The approach is rooted in the concept of redundancy of knowledge basis. This concept underlines the role and importance for a firm's systems integration capabilities of (a) individuals as bearers of knowledge and (b) organizational contexts as containers that enable individuals to develop their knowledge. Systems integration resides in the capability of vision-construction of change.

The chapter argues that the role of systems integrators and systems integration capability involves the dynamic control (i.e. the ability and power to direct) of technological trajectories of the critical components, parts, subsystems, and, above all, of the trajectory of systems integration itself. The assembler and the activity of assembling are not necessarily involved in the control of the systems integration dynamic. I argue that being a mere assembler, may become unsustainable in those environments that are characterized by multi-technological products or processes comprising many parts and complex interrelated dynamics.

In order to develop the argument, the chapter is structured as follows. In the first section, I offer a definition of the traditional model of individual knowledge which is at the basis of the paradigm of 'efficiency without intelligence', and which is still informing managerial common sense.

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The Business of Systems Integration
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Business of Systems Integration iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Notes on Contributors xiii
  • List of Figures xix
  • List of Tables xxi
  • References 12
  • Part I the History of Systems Integration 14
  • 2 Inventing Systems Integration 15
  • References 32
  • 3 Systems Integration and the Social Solution of Technical Problems in Complex Systems 35
  • References 54
  • 4 Integrating Electrical Power Systems 56
  • Acknowledgements 74
  • 5 Specialization and Systems Integration 78
  • References 89
  • Part II Theoretical and Conceptual Perspectives on Systems Integration 93
  • References 110
  • 7 Corporate Strategy and Systems Integration Capabilities 114
  • References 130
  • 8 The Role of Technical Standards in Coordinating the Division of Labour in Complex System Industries 133
  • References 150
  • 9 The Cognitive Basis of Systems Integration 152
  • References 171
  • 10 Towards a Dynamics of Modularity 174
  • References 196
  • Part III Competitive Advantage and Systems Integration 199
  • 11 The Geography of Systems Integration 201
  • References 226
  • 12 Modularity and Outsourcing 229
  • Acknowledgement 251
  • Acknowledgement 275
  • References 276
  • 14 Systems Integration in the Us Defence Industry 279
  • Acknowledgement 302
  • References 304
  • 15 Changing Boundaries of Innovation Systems 307
  • References 330
  • 16 Integrated Solutions 333
  • Acknowledgement 365
  • References 367
  • Index 369
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