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Title: Product innovation and knowledge protection in the relationship between automotive first-tier suppliers and OEMs in China : an empirical investigation
Author: Hiebaum, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 2737 5064
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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The entry of China into the globalized world and onto the stage of the global automarket has presented auto manufacturers with the largest ever market opportunity. While global competitive forces drive firms to develop product innovation through their global supply chains, the approach of global auto manufacturers and their first tier suppliers has been to bring existing technology into China. Only recently has the supply chain in China become integrated into the global product innovation cycle. While innovations generated by supply channel relationships, as opposed to individual partners, are playing an increasingly important role in the success of all supply chain partners, there has been limited research in the literature on how supply chain relationships cultivate the process of such innovation generation, particularly in China. Correspondingly, this study explores how multinational suppliers can develop adaptive product innovation in order to create a sustainable competitive advantage in China and how the protection of their knowledge helps them sustain it. Drawing on the knowledge-based view and transaction cost economics, and integrating those with behavioural governance and the institution-based view this study identifies drivers of product innovation for MNC suppliers in their relationships with Chinese OEMs, investigates the influence of supplier involvement and knowledge protection on supplier product innovation and examines the outcomes in the specific context of the Chinese automotive industry from the first-tier supplier perspective. Survey results of 170 multinational automobile suppliers in China indicate support for most of the hypotheses. Specifically, knowledge protection is found to have an impact on product innovation in the context of the auto industry in China. Supplier involvement in co-design and co-development with an automotive OEM customer has an inverted U-shaped relationship with product innovation. Furthermore, trust and technological uncertainty are found to drive greater product innovation. In addition, the institutional environment moderates the effect of product innovation on performance. Overall, this study enhances the understanding of how MNC suppliers can acquire local knowledge, develop products adapted to the local market requirements and foster product innovation while retaining their knowledge and know-how and minimizing negative effects of spill-overs to the local competition in the automotive industry in China.
Supervisor: Yamin, M.; Sinkovics, Rudolf Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Automotive industry ; China ; Institutional environment ; knowledge ; knowledge protection ; product innovation ; supplier involvement ; intellectual property