This paper is part of the project named "Coordinating Competencies and Knowledge in the Auto Industry" (CoCKEAS) carried on by some research groups associated to GERPISA International Network and subdivided in five work packages. This one is conventionally indicated as workpackage N.1. It is focused upon the analysis of the evolution of the relationship between automakers (Original Equipment Manufacturers – OEMs) and the specific type of suppliers who directly interact with them, also carrying out the task of coordinating a hierarchy of other suppliers which are located upwards in the automobile supply chain. This specific type of suppliers, occupying the higher place in a multilevel hierarchy, are labelled First Tier Suppliers (FTSs). The paper analyses the recent evolutions that are characterising this part of the supply chain with particular attention to: the redefinition of the division of labour between OEMs and component suppliers; the transformation induced by the process of internationalisation and globalisation; the growth in outsourcing; the design of shared platforms; the impact of innovation and modular production on the restructuring of the automotive industry; the major trends in the new pattern of production processes organisation and the likely transformations induced by the growing role of ICT.
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