A follow-up survey to one published in the Summer 1991 issue of Sloan Management Review (“How Much Has Really Changed between U.S. Automakers and Their Suppliers?” by Susan Helper) shows that long-term, closely linked relationships have performance advantages for automakers and their suppliers in both the United States and Japan. Although such high-performance relationships with customers are still more prevalent in Japan than in the United States, the nature of supplier relations in the two countries is converging in some respects. The current survey includes more than 600 automotive suppliers in the United States and almost 500 suppliers in Japan.
The International Motor Vehicle Program at MIT sponsored the surveys. The Sloan Foundation and the Ameritech Foundation provided a large part of the funding. Helper did the North American survey with support from the Center for Regional Economic Issues at Case Western Reserve University. Sako did the Japanese survey with support from the Japan Auto Parts Industries Association (JAPIA) and the Economic Research Institute of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Machine Industry. The authors thank Mike Fogarty, Pat Coburn, Ardith Fogarty, Sylvia Brandt, Michele Lachman, Richard Parkin, Janine Dukes, Jennifer Redman, and Godfrey Chua in the United States; Akio Suzuki and members of the International Committee of JAPIA, Katsuji Ishiro and others at Kikai Shinko Kyokai Keizai Kenkyusho, Mamoru Hoshino of JAMA, and Hiroki Sato in Japan; and Karen Dennison in Britain.