This study of 453 supplier-automaker relationships in the U. S., Japan, and Korea examines the extent to which automakers manage their "arm's-length" and "partner" suppliers differently. The findings indicate that U. S. automakers have historically managed the majority of their suppliers using an arm's-length model, Korean automakers have managed suppliers primarily as partners, and Japanese automakers have somewhat different relationships with suppliers depending on the nature (i. e., degree of asset specificity and value) of the component. Only Japanese automakers have strategically segmented suppliers in such a way as to realize many of the benefits of both the arm's-length as well as the partner models. Firms should think strategically about supplier management and should not have a "one-size-fits-all" strategy for supplier management.
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