Design reuse and buffers in high-tech infrastructure development: A stakeholder perspective

Nuno Gil, Sara Beckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the implementation of design reuse and buffers in developing the infrastructure of high-tech production facilities Design reuse entails using the same systems architecture from one project to the next. Design buffers involve building slack into a proven systems architecture to absorb foreseeable change requests. Choosing the appropriate amounts of reuse and slack is dependent on the uncertainty in the manufacturing technology over the infrastructure life cycle. While proven infrastructure designs can economically accommodate incremental changes in technology, adaptation costs escalate when sufficient buffers are not built-in and changes are radical. We uncover opposing stakeholder interests in determining the extent to which reuse or buffers are used. Design reuse is attractive to the client to reduce the risk that a facility fails to perform, but limits the designer's job to tedious customization work. Design buffers are attractive to the designer to do original problem-solving and limit the risks of being unresponsive to uncertainty, but not to the client who is not guaranteed that the investments will pay off. We find that inequalities between the two stakeholders in the governing power on design decision-making compound the difficulties in assessing and implementing the reuse versus buffers tradeoff. © 2007 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-497
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


  • Design buffers
  • Design reuse
  • Infrastructure development process
  • Project stakeholder management


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