Co-Evolution of Products & Communities in Mass Collaborative Product Development: a Computational Exploration

DS 58-1: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 1, Design Processes, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Panchal, Jitesh
Section: Design Processes
Page(s): 49-60


Mass collaborative product development (MCPD) refers to a paradigm where large numbers of people collaborate in the form of communities to develop products and services. The evolution of products developed through MCPD processes is highly coupled with the evolution of associated communities. In this paper, the co-evolution of products and communities is modeled as a complex self-organizing system. The proposed approach is based on agent-based modeling and Social Network Analysis (SNA). It allows the modeling of participant behavior within MCPD scenarios, and facilitates the study of their interactions with the product and other participants. The model captures the information about i) products as modules and their interdependencies, and ii) participants as decision making agents. The evolving community structure is modeled as a weighted directed graph, which is analyzed using SNA metrics. The following aspects of the product development processes are studied: a) evolution of modules and number of participants, b) the community structure, c) effort distribution, d) distribution of the number of collaborators, and e) the effect of product dependencies on the community structure.

Keywords: Mass Collaboration, Product Development, Agent-based Modeling, Evolution, Social Network Analysis


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