Resources, autonomy and strategy : perceptions of competitive advantage in the UK automotive components industry
Theory building in strategic management has traditionally suffered from strong demarcation lines. The case of the resource-based view of firm (RBV) which has emerged as an alternative approach to industry-based explanations of how organisations develop and sustain competitive advantage, particularly demonstrates this divide. Since then, these alternative views of competitive advantage have often been portrayed as mutually exclusive antagonists. This study sets out to examine the perceptions of strategic managers in the UK automotive components industry in relation to these two competing schools of thought which advocate advantage through resources (RBV) or advantage through residence (industry approaches). This industry has been chosen due to the clear potential for industry structure and internal competencies to influence competitive advantage. Using quantitative techniques, data from senior managers is analysed in order to establish the extent to which the views of industry practitioners converge or diverge with the theoretical or anecdotal offerings of the strategy literature. The findings of this thesis suggest that a complex hybrid of perceptions tends to prevail among respondents from the industry. This can be attributed to historical, operational and supply chain factors. Furthermore, the study finds that the lexicon of competitive advantage and the priorities of resources advocated in the literature are not shared by strategists in the industry. Accordingly, the study finds, strategic management theory in relation to the resource-based view requires further research using the methodology developed in this thesis as a foundation.