Developing Shared Product Platforms During a Merger: The Fiat-Chrysler Case
Posted: 16 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 1, 2014
This paper, building on R&D integration and improvisation literature, explores how firms organize to jointly develop common product platforms if their integration process is still in progress. In order to address our exploratory research question, we draw on a unique set of empirical data gathered during the Fiat-Chrysler R&D integration process and during the development of their first shared product platform. We show that, how due to fierce competition on time in the industry, the two companies did not have time to complete the planned R&D integration. As a consequence, the first shared platform development project represented the real locus of technological, knowledge, and organizational integration between the two firms. In line with the R&D integration literature, this paper identifies a set of planned integration mechanisms: a centralized R&D area, two teams that mirror each other, integrator roles and shared technical norms. This organization was designed to help Fiat and Chrysler exploiting their complementarities. Furthermore, building on the improvisational literature, we show that the planned organization did not suffice: interstices between the two firms exist and planning and improvisation are complementary. Improvisation should be built upon a minimum structure and firms willing to accelerate their integration process can rely upon NPD activities.
Keywords: R&D integration, improvisation, NPD organization, merger and acquisitions
JEL Classification: O32
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