Shifts in Value Chain Governance and Upgrading in the European Periphery of Automotive Production: Evidence from Bursa, Turkey

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This paper examines shifts in value chain governance and upgrading in the automotive component production node of Bursa in Turkey. Component suppliers in Bursa have gained design and product-development competences, one result of which is that European and global firms have turned to the creation of modular value chains for the sourcing of components from these suppliers. This paper considers the implications of the insertion of Turkish suppliers into modular value chains on suppliers' upgrading, and reveals that, despite the diffusion of design and product-development competences to suppliers in Bursa, cutting-edge innovation activities such as marketing and branding continue to remain the domain of the lead firms. It is argued that although Turkish suppliers seem to be successful in upgrading to take on design and product-development tasks, this has been more due to the willingness of global lead firms to relinquish these functions than to the success of Turkish suppliers in encroaching upon these once core competences of their customers. It is concluded that power asymmetries in global automotive value chains continue to exist, and that lead firms continue to have a major influence on the type of upgrading strategies that are open to their suppliers.