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"Network Structure and Business Survival: The Case of U.S. Automobile Component Suppliers"

Anand Swaminathan, Glenn Hoetker, and Will Mitchell


First Author :

Anand Swaminathan
Graduate School of Management
University of California at Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616-8609

530-752-2924 (Fax)

Second Author :

Glenn Hoetker
Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1206 S. Sixth Street, M/C 706
Champaign, IL 61820

(217) 265-4081-9596
217) 244-7969 (Fax)

Third Author :

Will Mitchell
Business Administration
Duke University
Fuqua School of Business
P.O. Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708

(919) 660-7994
(919) 681-6244 (Fax)

Abstract :
We examine how three aspects of network structure affect supplier performance, focusing on relationship duration, supplier autonomy, and customer status. We examine their impact in different competitive contexts by considering differences in the modular and architectural technological characteristics of the components. Using data on all U.S. automotive carburetor and clutch manufacturers from 1918 to 1942, we find that suppliers of architectural goods (carburetors) benefit from long-term relationships, high status customers, and current autonomy. By contrast, only autonomy affects suppliers of modular goods (clutches). This comparison speaks to the contingent nature of the influence of network structure, with the benefits and constraints deriving largely from the nature of the inter-firm routines firms create to coordinate relationships. Relationships requiring extensive sets of inter-firm routines lead to greater benefits and constraints of network structure, while network structure has more restricted influence on relationships requiring less intensive inter-firm routines.
Manuscript Received : 2002
Manuscript Published : 2002
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