What Goes on Under the Hood? How Engineers Innovate in the Automotive Supply Chain

27 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2015

See all articles by Susan Helper

Susan Helper

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Economics

Jennifer W. Kuan

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 2013

Abstract

This paper takes a detailed look at the automotive supply chain to gain insight into how engineers generate innovation. Using survey data and observations from dozens of site visits to manufacturers, we characterize the incremental improvements in processes and product quality that accumulate to produce economically significant change. Much of this innovative activity is “invisible” because it is unpatented or because the many small- to medium-sized enterprises we survey do not measure R&D spending. Thus, our survey provides new measures of innovation not addressed by existing measures, especially patents and R&D spending. Consistent with other in-depth studies of engineering work, we find that many non-engineers are engaged in innovative activity. Also, we find that firm’s relationship to its customers affect the ability to invest in innovation.

Keywords: engineering, innovation, automotive, supply chain, small- and medium-sized enterprises

JEL Classification: L62, O32

Suggested Citation

Helper, Susan and Kuan, Jennifer W., What Goes on Under the Hood? How Engineers Innovate in the Automotive Supply Chain (April 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2567505 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2567505

Susan Helper

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Economics ( email )

Cleveland, OH 44106
United States
216-368-5541 (Phone)
216-368-5542 (Fax)

Jennifer W. Kuan (Contact Author)

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business ( email )

7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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