The development of models for a priori assessment of the reliability of micro electromechanical systems is of crucial importance for the further development of such devices. In this contribution a partition of unity-based cohesive zone finite element model is employed to mimic crack nucleation and propagation in a piezoelectric continuum. A multiscale framework to appropriately represent the influence of the microstructure on the response of a miniaturized component is proposed. It is illustrated that using the proposed multiscale method a representative volume element exists. Numerical simulations are performed to demonstrate the constitutive homogenization framework. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.