Informations and abstract
In the last decade, in a context of growing international competition, major car makers adopted strategies of reduction of vertical integration and rationalization of the supplier system. Accordingly, a reorganization of the supply chain along hierarchical lines and a sharp reduction in the number of suppliers took place; car makers and component suppliers are developing more cooperative, long-term relationships, often by sharing R&D, design and engineering activities. In Piedmont, whose specialization in automotive industry is still high, the supply chain has undergone analogous transformations: the number of suppliers of the FIAT Group has remarkably reduced; several firms, expecially middle-big sized companies, have undertaken processes of diversification of supply relationships and strategic repositioning in international markets. In order to assess the effectivenes of such strategies, we have carried out an analysis based on macroeconomic indicators and balance sheet data of about 300 Piedmontese automotive firms in the 1996-2001 period. We argue that those strategies have been on average successful; firms' competitiveness in international markets has increased. Firms that diversified customers relationships in international markets have had better economic and financial results. Since 1999 the automotive industry has undergone a significant worsening of profitability. In 2001, in particular, ROE has become negative for those firms more concentrated on the domestic market, while it has been still positive for more export-oriented firms.