Suppliers’ involvement in product design process: a study on Turkish automotive industry

Kanmaz, Gökçe
New product development is a challenging process which plays a significant role for the rise of the competitiveness of a firm. This process benefits from cooperative relations in the supply network of the firm, such as the collaboration in buyer- supplier relations. The automotive industry presents a good example for studying buyer supplier relations. The positive effects of supplier involvement in product design and development process have been discussed intensely in the literature due to the exceptional success of OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers- in the Japanese automotive industry. This study analyzes the role of suppliers in the automotive sector, the buyer-supplier interface and relations, and new product development process specific to the automotive industry in order to highlight the outcomes of supplier involvement in product development process especially during the design phase. A descriptive questionnaire study on the Turkish automotive supplier industry was conducted. The questionnaire was completed by 25 supplier firms who are members of the Association of Turkish Automotive Parts & Components Manufacturers (TAYSAD) and 5 OEM firms. The questionnaire results show that the level of supplier involvement in the product design phase is low compared to the other project phases such as introduction to the project, prototype production, pre-launch, and mass production. Following this preliminary study, two in-depth interviews were conducted with one OEM and one supplier representatives, and more detailed information on suppliers’ involvement in product design was gathered. Keywords: Supplier Involvement, Automotive Industry, Product Development, Collaborative Design .