Knowledge Generation and Innovation Diffusion in the Global Automotive Industry—Change and Stability During Turbulent Times

Anja Schulze, University of Zurich; John Paul MacDuffie, Management Department Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and Florian A. Täube, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management

Industrial and Corporate Change

Abstract: This introduction to the April 2015 Industrial and Corporate Change special section establishes the context within which automotive firms cope with turbulence caused by globalization, new governmental regulations, and advances in electronics, communication, and drive train technologies. While exploring change, the papers in the special section also report on stability, e.g. in the central role of Original Equipment Manufacturers in system integration and their resulting dominance over product architecture and supply chain dynamics. We apply the lens of change and stability to two stages of the innovation lifecycle: (i) knowledge generation; and (ii) the diffusion of innovations. The papers, organized along these dimensions, help us understand how and why automotive firms are changing their ways of innovating, but also why past patterns of innovative behavior persist. We close with an outlook on future research topics to complement this special section.

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Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation
The Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation (PVMI) is the largest and oldest international research consortium aimed at understanding the challenges facing the global automotive industry. PVMI’s network includes more than 50 prominent scholars of innovation, strategy, technology, operations, organization, and human resources who have conducted interdisciplinary, often collaborative, research at more than 25 universities worldwide. Originally founded at MIT in 1979, PVMI became part of the Mack Institute in 2013.