Matching supply networks to a modular product architecture in the house-building industry

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Notions of aligning modular product architectures and buyer-supplier relationships, which have spread widely through other industrial and retail sectors, have largely bypassed the house-building industry. The major question posed in this study is: what types of contractor-supplier relationships are needed to develop and produce a modular housing system successfully? An in-depth case study examines a Dutch house-building company that is developing an 'industrialized' modular housing system in collaboration with several specialized suppliers. Based on the analysis of the ten dyadic contractor-supplier relationships, it is shown that contractor-supplier relationships in modular house-building are moderated by both demand and supply aspects. The alignment between product modules and contractor-supplier relationships is found to be contingent on four drivers: the degree of variety in customer demand, the extent of the required supplier investment, the extent of dependence on supplier knowledge, and the intentions of both the supplier and the buyer in a relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalBuilding research and information
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Modularity
  • Contractor–supplier relationships
  • House-building industry
  • Multi-project production
  • Modern methods of construction (MMC)
  • Design rules
  • Supplier networks
  • Intellectual property rights (IPR)
  • Housing


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