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Title: Divide and rule : firm boundaries in the aircraft engine industry.
Author: Prencipe, Andrea.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3499 0354
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2000
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This thesis investigates the changing boundaries of the firm. Drawing on a study of the aircraft engine industry, it explores the managerial choices faced by firms in the development of complex products. The thesis builds on the literature on the resourcebased view of the firm, and studies on inter-firm division of labour. It integrates comparative quantitative analysis and case study methods. The thesis shows that despite the increasing use of collaborative agreements, aircraft engine manufacturers maintain a broad and deep set of in-house technological capabilities. Collaborative agreements are used to complement in-house technological capabilities and as a means to maintain systems integration capabilities. The thesis also shows that the aircraft engine industry is characterised by (a) increasing product modularization, often entailing a greater division of labour across firms at the product level, and (b) active co-ordination by engine manufacturers at the technological level. These two phenomena demonstrate that the technological boundaries of the firm differ fundamentally from the boundaries of the firm as defined by make-buy decisions. Outsourcing of components does not necessarily entail outsourcing technologies. These findings challenge current managerial prescriptions that suggest that firms should focus on a few technological capabilities. They also challenge the literature that argues that modularity should inform product design as well as firms' technology bases. The thesis proposes a framework to analyse the boundaries of firms developing complex products. Focusing on their role as systems integrators, it identifies two key dimensions of systems integration: synchronic and diachronic. Synchronic systems integration refers to the range of in-house technological capabilities of engine manufacturers required to set the concept design, decompose it, co-ordinate the network of suppliers, and re-compose the engine within a given product architecture. Diachronic systems integration refers to engine manufacturers' capabilities to envisage different paths of product architectures to meet evolving customer and regulatory requirements.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Collaborative agreements; System integration