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Supplier involvement in design: a comparative survey of automotive suppliers in the USA, UK and Japan

Jeffrey K. Liker (Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)
Rajan R. Kamath (Department of Management, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)
S. Nazli Wasti (Middle East Technical University, Department of Management, Inonu Bulvari, Ankara, Turkey)

International Journal of Quality Science

ISSN: 1359-8538

Article publication date: 1 September 1998


This paper examines supplier involvement in design based on survey data from 145 Japanese, 189 US and 87 UK automotive component suppliers. First, cross‐national differences in the degree of supplier involvement are examined. Second, regression analysis is used to identify factors which predict high or low levels of supplier involvement in design. Third, the effects of supplier involvement in product development on the degree to which products are designed for manufacturability are assessed. The data show that, contrary to much of the literature that suggests the highest levels of supplier involvement in design are in Japan, suppliers in the USA and UK are more likely to report greater influence on product design decisions, earlier involvement and more frequent communications with customers about design. Moreover, manufacturing planning and design begin later, as a proportion of the development cycle, in Japan than in the USA and the UK. Regression analysis shows that involving suppliers early and giving them influence over design is associated with greater contributions of suppliers to cost reduction, quality improvement and design for manufacturability. Suppliers are given the greatest influence and communication is most intensive for the design of complex subsystems and new designs, and this does not vary by country.



Liker, J.K., Kamath, R.R. and Nazli Wasti, S. (1998), "Supplier involvement in design: a comparative survey of automotive suppliers in the USA, UK and Japan", International Journal of Quality Science, Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 214-238.




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