Agency, structure, and the dominance of OEMs: change and stability in the automotive sector

Michael G. Jacobides, John Paul MacDuffie, C Jennifer Tae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Citations (SciVal)


This paper reviews structural change in the automotive sector from 1997–2007. We find that, following internal framing contests, OEMs led efforts to change their sector’s architecture, starting from both strong and weak competitive positions and working with suppliers to advocate a new vision based on modularity and outsourcing. As the risks and costs of this vision became apparent, OEMs were able to reverse course and reaffirm their hierarchical control on the sector, taking advantage of structural features that weren’t salient ex ante. We consider why certain agents initiated this status-quo challenging change, and identify how sector structure moderated their (and suppliers’) efforts to implement it. We document the complex change process, driven by agency, structure, and heterogeneity in firms’ understanding of their sector’s architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1942-1967
Number of pages26
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number9
Early online date1 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2016


  • industry architecture
  • agency
  • framing contests
  • value dynamics
  • modularity
  • outsourcing


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