Carliss Y. Baldwin

William L. White Professor of Business Administration

Carliss Y. Baldwin is the William L. White Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. She studies the process of design and its impact of design architecture on firm strategy, platforms, and business ecosystems. With Kim Clark, she authored Design Rules, Volume 1: The Power of Modularity. Her work has been published in a variety of leading journals including Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Management Science, Research Policy and Harvard Business Review. She has won numerous awards for research: most recently, she received a Doctor honoris causa from the Technical University Munich in 2014, and in 2015 was named the Distinguished Scholar of the Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) division of the Academy of Management.

Carliss has a Doctorate and MBA from Harvard Business School, and an SB in Economics from MIT. She studied finance under Robert C. Merton, Franco Modigliani, and John Lintner.

At Harvard Business School, she developed and taught Mergers & Acquisitions, a second-year elective MBA course, and presently teaches Finance 2, a first-year required course. She has written over 50 cases and notes for MBA and executive classes. In 2014, her case on Roche’s Acquisition of Genentech was named the best case in Finance, Accounting and Control by the Case Centre.

Also at Harvard Business School, she has been a Director of Research, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Planning, and head of the Doctoral Programs at Harvard Business School. Within Harvard University, she has been on the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Chair of the Advisory Committee on Social Responsibility. She has served on numerous corporate and non-profit boards.

  1. Distributed Innovation in Open Systems——The Role of Modularity

    by Carliss Y. Baldwin

    Distributed innovation in open systems is an important trend in the modern global economy. As education levels rise and communication costs fall, more people have the means and motivation to innovate. Supply chains now stretch around the world as firms outsource production to innovative suppliers, and many firms have structured their products as open systems in which users and complementors are invited to innovate.

    In general, distributed innovation in open systems is made possible by the modularity of the underlying product or process. Modularity reduces the risk that small changes in the environment will cause the whole system to fail, and makes it easier for the entire system to evolve towards higher levels of performance. This is true for complex products and processes and for networks of firms loosely linked in so-called business ecosystems.

    My research is aimed at understanding how modularity is achieved in technical systems as well as the impact of modularity on firm value and industry structure. Currently I am working on projects focused on (1) impact of modularity on intellectual property, (2) the hidden structure of complex systems (especially software), and (3) how design rights may be shared across modular boundaries.