I'm wondering whether there is an equivalent functionality in Blender to simulate the way Flash let's you create object "instances" each of which encapsulates other objects and even animations. The key thing here is that you can have multiple instances of the outer object and if you change the internal setup, all instances will be updated on the main stage.
The motivation is that I'm trying to create in Blender an animation similar to a camera iris where each of the fins is an identical shape with an identical animation but with each instance rotated a certain amount.
Techniques like the duplication one here seem to only work with the outer most object in a parented stack: How can I duplicate a mesh along a curve?
And linked duplicates duplicate (w/o linking) the animation actions in the NLA editor.
Is this kind of encapsulation possible in Blender?