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Flexibility versus robust networks: the case of the Brazilian automotive sector

Jose Paulo Fusco (Paulista University, UNIP, São Paulo, Brazil)
Martin Spring (Manchester School of Management, Manchester, UK and Centre for Management Quality Research, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

Integrated Manufacturing Systems

ISSN: 0957-6061

Article publication date: 1 February 2003



The “robust networks” concept of Ferdows is examined and related to other key theories from the manufacturing strategy literature, resource‐based and other conceptualisations of the organisation of innovation in international networks, and the international business debates on “operational flexibility”. The cases of seven international automotive assemblers with operations in Brazil are then considered in the light of Ferdows’ framework and the external factors bearing on the country and the sector within it. It is evident that, among the global assemblers, the “world” car strategy is dominant, leading to a concentration on the “source” and “lead” roles for individual plants, often combined with radical logistical arrangements. This seems in turn to support the argument for “robustness” rather than “operational flexibility”. Suggestions are made for further work to study the luxury car assemblers and other sectors where economies of scale are less important and where there is a greater degree of global dispersion of production facilities.



Paulo Fusco, J. and Spring, M. (2003), "Flexibility versus robust networks: the case of the Brazilian automotive sector", Integrated Manufacturing Systems, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 26-35.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited