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
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.