Supply chains and suppliers trajectories: towards the global value chain?

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The modularization of the supply chains that we pointed out during our previous research programs created a somewhat “dual value chain” in terms of capabilities. One can point out the fact that there is a tremendous gap, in terms of internationalization, investment capabilities and adaptability to the new markets, between, on the one hand, big and intermediate firms, and on the other hand, SMEs. First-tier suppliers became big players in the automotive industry, and their roles even evolved in this period of transition towards more sustainable mobility. Here, the main point is to examine various trajectories of first-tier suppliers, from traditional and emergent territories, and the way they build transactions with their own suppliers and their customer firms. As for the SMEs, the question is to know under what kind of conditions they are able to maintain their activities on traditional territories and to develop on emergent territories, local and foreign suppliers. We can also observe the acquisition of European or American supplier companies by Indian or Chinese investors, which might have tremendous impact on the geopolitical order for supply systems.

In this context, several questions have to be raised. First, the current research agenda has to explore the capacity of suppliers (who and how?) to build global value chains, having a role of bridge between several territories. Second, directly linked with this question, a typology of suppliers according several parameters, but especially their functions (body parts, transmission, etc.), should be built to understand the current development of global value chains. Third, the evolutions of transactions within supply chains, taking also into account the roles of SMEs, is still an important aspect. Fourth, the question then becomes which industrial and/or technological strategies are at work here; what role national and local public policy plays in these movements; and what kind of future landscape is being created through these changes. Clearly these are key questions both at an operational level but also in terms of the research perspective that the conference is trying to adopt. We would welcome relevant studies contributing to better understanding, including historical ones.

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Concéption Tommaso Pardi
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