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Moreso than many other consumer goods, the mass-produced automobile has transformed the lives of people around the world. Automobiles have broken down previous geographic barriers by making transportation across vast stretches of land both faster and more accessible. In industrial nations with developed auto markets, cars have also taken on a significant cultural significance. Earning a driver's license is a teenage rite of passage and memories of one's first car tend to stir up nostaglia. People take great pride in their cars, prizing them for safety, functionality, prestige, or sheer power. Indeed, some even associate the purchasing of an certain brand of car with patriotism, as the automobile industry played a critical role in the economic development of many developed nations, including the United States.

For decades, automotive industrial strength has been synonymous with economic prowess. Automobile production is among the most capital intensive, producer driven industries, ensuring that it is dominated by an elite group of large, powerful firms. Globalization, however, has started to dilute the traditional centers of power, in both geographic and even corporate terms. Developing nations, especially those in Asia, have experienced tremendous growth in automobile and parts production and employment, while developed nations have watched their own growth stagnate or turn negative. Developed nations still, however, account for the bulk of worldwide production, as the accumulated capital and skills of its workers allow facilities in traditional centers of dominance to be more productive. Both developed and emerging markets attract significant foreign investment, as firms attempt to reap the advantages of proximity to large existing or potential consumer bases.

In this website, we will discuss various trends in the recent progression of the auto industry. First, an analysis of the automotive value chain will be provided, including a discussion on global governance. Next, changing trade patterns within the sector will be presented and examined. Furthermore, a section on firms using offshoring to shift global production details a pivotal concern of both firms and workers in recent years, as it improves corporate competitiveness while weakening regional economic strength in their home countries. Finally, a discussion on the major political and environmental determinants exacting consequences upon the car industry will be included.

This website was put together by Team I of Gary Gereffi's Spring 2007 course on Organizations and Global Competitiveness. The team members, as well as their primary areas of responsibility, are listed below.
We hope you will enjoy learning more about the automobile industry's recent and possible future progression.

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