Beginning in the late 1960s, the widespread acceptance of a new manufacturing technology and the emergence of sophisticated new foreign competitors, first in Europe and later in Asia, radically changed the competitive environment in the tire markets of North America. They set off a chain of events that, combined with the globalization of automobile manufacturing, led to a massive restructuring of the U.S., European, and Japanese tire industries. This article describes the competitive strategies that The Firestone Tire & Rubber Company developed during the eighties in an effort to adapt its business activities to a rapidly changing competitive environment. It chronicles how, in March of 1988, the implementation of those strategies, combined with courses of action pursued by other major world tire companies, resulted in the Bridgestone/Firestone merger, the largest acquisition in history of a U.S. manufacturer by a Japanese corporation.
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