Relational Structure of Global Automotive Industry: Groups, Networks and Fields
Meso level studies are increasing in economic sociology and management studies with the concept of field (FLIGSTEIN & MCADAM, 2012), social networks (GRANOVETTER, 1985) and strategic groups (LAZZARINI, 2008; GARCIA-PONT & NOHRIA, 2002; GOMES-CASSERES, 1994; NOHRIA & GARCIA-PONT, 1991). Although different theoretical perspectives, there is a consensus on the importance and the complementary nature of these levels of analysis. As well, there is a significant complementarity in study of groups, networks and fields. Somehow, the dominant companies tend to relate with other actors to make their dominant position (FLIGSTEIN & MCADAM, 2012) or get access to resources (GARCIA-PONT & NOHRIA, 2002; GOMES-CASSERES, 1994) and knowledge (POWELL & SMITH-DOER, 1984). Then, the configuration of relationships in these groups of companies is to have a significant role in value appropriation by the actors (LAVIE, 2007) in the domination of the field (FLIGSTEIN & MCADAM, 2012) and in control and complementarity of resources (PFEFFER & SALANCIK, 2003). The article seeks to dialogue with distinct theoretical perspectives of networks, groups, networks and fields to understand the market dynamics. So, the objective of this article is to analyze the network of relationships of automotive companies from the cross-shareholding, joint ventures, manufacturing contracts and alliances, from 2004 to 2014. The research is guided by certain issues such as: what are more central companies? Who are the strategic groups? The sub-groups became denser? What features are combined to promote a privileged position in the field?
Data collection was conducted through databases of Automotive News, OICA (International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers) specialized publications and official information from the companies. OICA Reports indicate around to 47-50 automakers per year (nodes) which represents more than 90% of the vehicle units produced worldwide. The sampling amount is 3695 relations in 2004 to 2014. On the tabulated data was possible to assemble networks (also called Sociograms) through social network analysis software, Gephi and NodeXL. The article then considered network analysis metrics such as centrality, group density ams density of the network
The research results show that the processes of internationalization and growth of automakers and suppliers are made possible through these relationships of groupings companies. These positions can generate greater power, access to resources and market opportunities. Although the enterprises social capital, captured by the analysis of social networks is a type of resource, such organizations and relations among companies can give dominating positions in the field, whether by impose a new logic or even to access valuable resources. Also, we found that the competitive structure of the industry happens in this meso level analysis (either at the network level, or the field level) and not by individual companies. This structural composition leads to compete with other groups and to cooperate with other groups. Thus, the construction of Sociograms among companies allowed to visualize the relationships structure and automakers position in this relationships structure, to make inferences to get resources in the field.