Firms’ Learning Capabilities under a New Economic Environment: A Case Study of Mexican Auto Parts Firms
AbstractThe study presented in this paper describes preliminary findings on changes in the adoption of different learning mechanisms before and after the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), based on a study of 193 Mexican automotive firms. The results obtained give us useful insights on the composition and capability levels of the sector as well as highlighting changes in the research and development (R&D) capacity of these firms under the new competitive market conditions. The study is based on firm-level panel data from the automotive industry obtained from the National Survey on Employment, Salaries, Technology and Training (ENESTyC) carried out by the National Statistics Office and the Ministry of Labour for the years 1991, 1994, 1998 and 2000. It presents a descriptive analysis of quantitative measures taken by firms with regards to learning, and focuses on changes in learning trends owing to different market conditions brought about by NAFTA. The analysis is complemented by a multivariate probit model that tests the relationship between critical firm-level variables and a firm’s probability of conducting R&D activities, training staff, acquiring technological packages and/or receiving technology transfers from their headquarters, or procuring machinery and equipment. The empirical analysis highlights important associations between different kinds of learning mechanisms adopted by firms and their own critical characteristics. The study shows that of all the learning mechanisms available to firms, training is the one most commonly used in the sector – and it is on the increase. However, the results also indicate that training is mainly given to those who operate specific machines or technologies, and does not go towards helping firms develop the absorptive capacity they need if they are to move towards newer and more complex technologies and market changes. This may imply that the automotive sector is moving towards a lower level of dynamic learning, concentrating on day-to-day operational activities with a tendency to import knowledge from foreign countries. On the other hand there may be more competition since the implementation of NAFTA, which requires firms to conduct training simply in order to maintain their operational level rather than to upgrade their capabilities. The results obtained in this study provide useful insights and lessons that go beyond the Mexican context and that may be useful for other manufacturing sectors in developing countries.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by United Nations University, Institute for New Technologies in its series Discussion Papers with number 05.
Date of creation: 2005
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Web page: http://www.intech.unu.edu
Learning; capability building; technology transfer; automotive industry; NAFTA; Mexico;
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2005-09-29 (All new papers)
- NEP-INO-2005-09-29 (Innovation)
- NEP-TID-2005-09-29 (Technology & Industrial Dynamics)
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- Contreras, Oscar F. & Carrillo, Jorge & Alonso, Jorge, 2012. "Local Entrepreneurship within Global Value Chains: A Case Study in the Mexican Automotive Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 1013-1023.
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