Involving suppliers into new product development process has been widely recognized by auto makers as an efficient way to be agile and lean (Womack et al. 1990; Clark and Fujimoto 1991; Nishiguchi 1994). While American and European companies adopted design-in with the Japanese auto makers as the benchmark during 1980s and then turned to the outsourcing of big scale modules to suppliers in late 1990s, the continuing endeavor of the Japanese auto makers to improve the lean product development by incorporating information technology and modularization into their supply chain management still makes them take the lead at the turn of the new century. In this case study, we attempt to see more details about how suppliers are involved into the upstream of value chain in the Japanese auto industry.
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