3C framework for modular supply networks in the Chinese automotive industry

Yong Lin, Li Zhou, Yongjiang Shi, Shihua Ma

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The purpose of this paper is aimed at understanding and identifying the context, capability requirements, and configurations (3Cs) of modular supply networks in the Chinese automotive industry.

In an attempt to specify the main elements of modular supply networks, a case study and 3C framework approach analyze different network contexts. The framework considers not only the capabilities of product design, production, inbound logistics, and information sharing, but also the configuration of the role structure, process structure, and information structure that helps achieve these capabilities.

This paper analyzes two types of modular supply network, directly reflecting the degrees of involvement in the modularity logic of the module supplier and the automaker, which largely depend on their corporate strategy toward technology innovation. In a fully integrated module supply network, the module supplier needs sufficient capability for upstream supply network integration and modularization, whereas in the partly integrated module supply network, a third‐party logistics provider plays an important role with regard to production capability.

Research limitations/implications
This paper investigates four modules. The practical tools for configuring the modular supply network can be specified in more detail in further research.

The 3C framework described herein contributes to theory in the fields of supply chain management and modularity, and it assists in further expanding the theory of SCM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-341
JournalThe International Journal of Logistics Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2009


  • China
  • automotive industry
  • Supply chain management


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