Production models and productive restructuring in Mexican automotive industry : Ford Motors Company

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Puebla (2016)


Flexibility, Production models, Productive restructuring, Productivity


The 2008 global economic crisis had serious financial, economic and social effects in both national and international aspect. This research purpose is to elucidate the crisis effects on Mexican automotive sector terminal industry centering on Ford Motors Company and the changes that have taken place in terms of their productive strategies and labor relations.
Particularly, we analyze the Ford Motors Company's behavior that overcame a path of economic losses and undesirable world market positions since the late twentieth century and early twenty-first at the time that increased its participation in Mexican and Latin American automotive industry. One of the essential factors is related to the productive restructuring of the outdated Cuautitlan Izcalli plant located in Estado de Mexico (a region that has a wide industrial and automotive tradition).

The restructuring of the plant is planned before the crisis and starts to operate in 2010. In response to the cutthroat competition that Japanese automotive companies maintain, Ford Motors holds most of its production in North America, being this the best market. In the last two decades, the company has adopted a transregional strategy by integrating local networks from different regions of the world and consolidating global productive platforms, coordinating, thereby, its intervention with a global perspective of its productive operations, thus participating in various projects and modalities in joint collaboration with other automakers. Due to that, our research aims to enlighten the impact of the restructuring process that had the company since the arrival of CEO Alan Mulally and the way it articulates in their production models and the management of labor relations in Mexico and more specifically in Cuautitlan plant. Additionally, we also remark the changes, the relationship, and the parallelisms between Cuautitlan and other company's assembly plant in Mexico located in Hermosillo, Sonora, in the north of the country, which maintains one of the highest quality and productivity standards of the company in the world.
In terms of Productive Model, we try to locate our research in the convergence-divergence productive discussion to determine whether the same corporate automaker maintains a similar trend in work organization, product policy, technological standard, and labor relations.

The procedure for conducting this research was implementing a quantitative and structural analysis of the automotive industry and the Ford Motor Company; besides, the central perspective starts from the analysis in situ in both factories: Cuautitlan and Hermosillo, collecting empirical information by conducting interviews about strategies, decision makings, labor relations, and work processes.

Among the principal conclusions, we found an increasing on flexibility in terms of labor relations which are limited according to union agreements of each plant; moreover, a gradual loss of bilateralism is evident because all the procedures are determined by the company; and finally, there is a trend to increase the technological pattern towards automation to achieve better control of the work process, better quality, and more productivity, which impacts on the skills and expertise of automotive technicians

Keywords: Flexibility; Productivity; Productive restructuring; Production models.

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