The Structure of the Toyota Supply Network: An Empirical Analysis
24 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2014 Last revised: 18 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 21, 2014
Increasing awareness of the intrinsically complex nature of supply networks has brought the field of supply chain management into the domain of network science. However, due to the difficulties of acquiring large-scale and consistent empirical data sets, a more complete picture of a real-world supply network has remained remarkably elusive. In this paper, we present novel data that characterize the Toyota supply network, and identify key structural features using measures from social network analysis and the more recent field of network science. We show that the network structure for the Toyota supply network departs widely from the simplified models on which much previous work is based. Our analysis reveals the heterogeneous composition of the network and identifies key firms. Further analysis reveals the existence of constituent sub-networks, and we show that their structures reflect various factors, such as product categorization, geographical closeness and business alignment. Mapping the topology, geography, and distribution of productive capabilities for this supply network provides a critical first step for developing a more empirically-grounded theory of distributed production.
Keywords: supply network, inter-organizational network, automobile industry, social network analysis, empirical data
JEL Classification: C00, C19, L62
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