“Inter-materials” Variety and the Overchoice Phenomenon
In the last chapter, it was argued that the strategic redeployment and diffusion of activities arose from the complexity inherent in the manufacture of articles from composite materials, and so economic management and the related assimilation of knowledge were geared to mastery of the “intra-materials” aspect. The production of articles which are technical systems in themselves, for example cars and aircraft, involves another form of variety, that existing between materials. With this “inter-materials” type of variety, the problems of technical interface are attended by relentless competition in which each material tries to become dominant in as many technical applications as possible and, through the redesign of industrial objects, to attain a sufficient critical mass to oust its rival. The problem of substitution, whether reversible or irreversible, will therefore be a central issue (first section). A formulation of the “inter-materials” problem will round off the preceding chapter, after which we can raise the question of the actual coherence of the variety or overchoice problem (section two). Having dealt with the technological and competitive issues, we shall go on to discuss the various styles of management of variety (third section) as an introduction to the next two chapters.
KeywordsCast Iron Technical Object Engine Block Secondary Material Substitution Mechanism
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