Changing production systems: The automobile industry in Spain

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This paper examines the forces underlying the dramatic changes experienced by the Spanish automobile industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Over this period, Spanish automobile production expanded substantially and the industry became more export oriented. The main findings are the following: first, the takeoff of the industry was due to a combination of domestic factors (cheap labor, industrial policies, and increased demand) and international factors (changes in preferences and innovations in organizational systems). Second, the industry introduced flexible production systems and adopted flexible specialization. This process led to a decrease in the degree of vertical integration, introduced just-in-time strategies, and intensified outsourcing. The Spanish auto network was enlarged by the creation of a new type of node: the distribution warehouse. Third, the new strategies adopted by Spanish assemblers did not involve a substantial change in the regional distribution of firms; traditional auto regions essentially have maintained their share of firms. In emerging regions a distribution warehouse replaced the expected cluster of component firms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-359
JournalEconomic Geography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998


  • Automobile industry in Spain
  • Industrial restructuring
  • Just-in-time
  • Lean production system
  • Mass production system


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