How Sourcing of Interdependent Components Affects Quality in Automotive Supply Chains

Anupam Agrawal, Suresh Muthulingam, Tharanga Rajapakshe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In the automotive industry, many firms source key components from different suppliers, even though the components may function interdependently. In this study, we investigate how component level interdependence impacts quality performance and analyze how various operational factors moderate this relation. We synthesize information from several case studies to model the quality challenges faced by an automotive firm. For several sub-assemblies that go into its products, the firm sourced key components from two different suppliers. The sub-assemblies would fail whenever a component fails, but due to interdependent operations, failure of one component could cause the failure of the other. The firm found it challenging to improve the suppliers' quality performance as it was difficult to trace the failures to specific components. Our analysis reveals that – (i) the impact of interdependence is governed by the supply chain structure: reducing the interdependence between components improves quality when suppliers provide the components, but reducing interdependence worsens quality when the firm manufactures the entire sub-assembly; and (ii) the relation between interdependence and quality performance is moderated by factors such as penalties, production costs, and interdependence costs. Additionally, we find that quality performance is lower when the firm outsources the components than when the firm manufactures the entire sub-assembly. We identify coordinating mechanisms that leverage incentives and penalties to bridge the quality performance gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1512-1533
Number of pages22
JournalProduction and Operations Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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