Vertical integration in a lean supply chain: Brazilian automobile component parts

Breandan O'Huallachain, David Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Brazil's automobile component parts industry shows that vertical integration and scale economies endure within flexible production systems. Recent neoliberal economic reforms propelled vehicle assemblers to adopt flexible modes of production and subcontract component manufacturing. However, transactional hazards in supply chains escalated as first-tier subsystem assemblers had to rely on small, opportunistic, and inefficient parts makers. Large tier one suppliers purchased existing parts makers and invested in greenfield facilities to service both new flexibly organized vehicle assembly plants in southern Brazil and Argentina and restructured assembly plants in the traditional automobile complex of Sao Paulo. We focus on Dana Corporation, Bradesco Bank, and British Tyre and Rubber Corporation-firms that assemble chasses, engines, and body subsystems, respectively. These companies dominate their segment of the parts industry, delivering subsystems to a growing network of flexible vehicle assembly plants through-out Brazil. Large-batch parts production, subsystem assembly by a few major multinational tier one suppliers, and ownership consolidation underscore the continued role of vertical integration and scale economies in automobile production chains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-42
Number of pages22
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Automobile components
  • Brazil
  • Tier one suppliers
  • Trade policy
  • Vertical integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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