Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Coordinating Competencies and Knowledge in the European Automobile System (CoCKEAS), Final Report

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00022


The European thematic network CoCKEAS (Coordinating Competencies and Knowledge in the European Automobile System [EAS]) was an attempt to analyse all of the structural changes that affected the EAS via an approach focusing on the new issues involved in coordinating the competencies and knowledge of the system's actors. Bringing together 13 research teams (including the GERPISA international network) from seven EU countries, CoCKEAS mostly looked at vertical relationships, intangible elements (finance, social usage) and changing geography of automobile production. Comparisons with other automobile regions (North America, Japan, the emerging countries) emphasised EAS distinctiveness. The following main findings reflect the sum total of the research output that was presented and discussed as part of the work that this thematic network achieved.
The automobile industry's entire value chain has undergone a profound reorganisation. The purpose has been to rationalise and improve the coordination of all of its activities, from whole vehicle design to final product manufacturing to retail distribution. Part of a move from a push to a pull logic, this change took place in an environment where greater differentiation and responsiveness became key constituents of competitiveness. ICT may have driven this change, but the diffusion thereof varied greatly from one area to the next and often encountered a number of structural obstacles. The reorganisation inferred a deep-seated restructuring of the relationship between car manufacturers and their suppliers, marked by an increasing delegation of design, production and module assembly functions to first tier suppliers. The move to modular production seemed particularly rapid in Europe. At the same time, the concentration that resulted from this new tiering led to the formation of worldwide oligopolies covering the main businesses, an outcome that increased the vulnerability of small and medium-sized enterprises.

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