Abstract: Evolution of the Supplier Network in the German Automotive Industry from the Prewar to the Postwar Period: A Comparative Perspective with the Japanese Experience

Hiroyuki Okamuro


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the development of the manufacturer-supplier relationship in the German automotive industry from the 1920s to the 1960s and to examine the continuity between the prewar and the postwar periods from a comparative perspective with the Japanese experience. Using original documents mainly from the DaimlerChrysler Archive and focusing on Daimler-Benz, I found that the postwar relationship in Germany is quite different from that in the prewar period. While an arm's-length relationship was dominant in the prewar period, the postwar relationship is more stable and characterized by intensive mutual commitment. An important turning point in the evolution of the supplier network can be found in the wartime economy. However, more direct reasons for the postwar changes include the new economic environment and experiences during the postwar period. As a whole, the evolution of the supplier relationship in Germany shows remarkable similarities to that in Japan. However, the formation of the stable and cooperative relationship in Japan was more directly influenced by the new conditions in the postwar period, especially at the beginning of motorization.

BEH On-Line Paper