Strategic alliances, organisational learning and new product development: the cases of Rover and Seat
Abstract:The importance of the automotive industry in the global economy is widely recognised. The sector has undergone enormous changes in order to prepare for the fierce competition of the 21st century. Among these transformations, the most relevant are those technologies developed for the rapid evolution of activities linked to new designs, new products, and new manufacturing processes and systems. Innovative Japanese carmakers have stimulated international performance comparisons in these activities.
International technology alliances may be one way of gaining access to new competitive technologies. Risks and costs associated with new product development can be shared among the partners and more effective use can be made of manufacturing facilities and production capabilities. Sometimes, an alliance agreement may lead to the deployment of new capabilities. However, in spite of this potential, the literature presents the success rate of alliances at less than 50%.
Our study considers two examples of companies that developed international joint ventures (IJVs): Rover with Honda, and Seat with Volkswagen. Since these two European peripheral companies, Rover and Seat, no longer remain as independent firms, we are interested in identifying the reasons leading to the success or failure of these IJVs as regards the New Product Development (NPD) process. In particular, in both cases the paper looks at the problems of the weaker partner becoming increasingly dependent on the other partner and the need for a well-defined strategy to benefit from IJVs.