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Modularization in the Auto Industry: Interlinked Multiple Hierarchies of Product, Production, and Supplier Systems

Akira Takeishi and Takahiro Fujimoto

No 01-02, IIR Working Paper from Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University

Abstract: This paper analyzes the modularization in the world auto industry. The modularization in the industry has involved architectural changes in product, production, and supplier systems with each region (Japan, Europe and the U.S.A.) emphasizing different purposes and aspects. As an attempt to understand such multi-faceted, complex processes coherently, this paper proposes a conceptual framework that sees development / production activities as interlinked, multiple hierarchies of products, processes, and inter-firm boundaries. With this framework, drawing on case studies and questionnaire survey data, the paper examines the on-going processes of modularization in the industry. It is argued that tensions exist among the three hierarchies, and such tensions may lead to further changes in product, production and supplier-system architectures in the auto industry, in a dynamic and path-dependent manner.

Keywords: Automotive industry; modularization; product architecture; production system; supplier system; hierarchies (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2001-02
Note: Submitted to International Journal of Automotive Technology Management, 2002/1/23
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