Knowledge transfer through the supply system: Does modularity make it easier?

Type de publication:

Journal Article


International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, Volume 3, Number 1-2, p.47-60 (2003)



The study compares the supply systems in two plants of a single car assembler: one is modular and the other is conventional, both producing subcompact cars. The modular plant has the highest level of outsourcing. Modular supply demands more interaction between assembler and systemist (also called module supplier) whenever the logic of outsourcing is present. As long as the assembler transfers more responsibilities for design, purchasing and production to the systemists, the flow of information has to be very efficient. The volume and intensity of knowledge transferred from assembler to systemist also depends on the systemist role: a full integrator assumes design and manufacturing, sharing engineering expertise with the assembler; a manufacturer just makes the pre-assembly. No evidence of outsourcing and modularity was found in the lower tiers and therefore it is improbable that the modular system becomes a favorable environment for them to increase knowledge and expertise.

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