Catch-up Process in Aircraft Industry: A Model Based on Experiences of Six Latecomer Countries

Catch-up Process in Aircraft Industry: A Model Based on Experiences of Six Latecomer Countries

Ali Manteghi (University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran), Manuchehr Manteghi (University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran), Alireza Aslani (Interdisciplinary Department, Faculty of New Sciences and Technology, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran) and Ali Mohaghar (University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/IJSKD.2018010103
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This article presents a staircase model for the catch-up process in the aircraft industry based on Reverse Product Life Cycle (RPLC). The model is composed of five consecutive phases: (1) maintenance and repair; (2) licensed production; (3) enhancing technological capabilities; (4) independent aircraft development from behind the technology frontier; and (5) independent aircraft development at the technology frontier. In order to propose this model, the catch-up processes in the aircraft industry in six latecomer countries (Brazil as a successful case, Japan and China which are still in the catch-up process and Romania, Indonesia and Argentina as unsuccessful cases) were studied. Then their activities in the catch-up process were categorized based on Miles and Huberman's data analysis method. Finally, the catch-up processes of all surveyed countries were considered on the same timeline, to gain a better perception about dynamics of different phases of the catch-up process in the aircraft industry. This suggested some ideas about: (1) overlaps between different phases; (2) relative size of different phases; and (3) different possible routes between phases. It was also concluded that in the aircraft industry, evolution based on sequential steps is more successful than jumping between different steps. The validity of the model is checked by its conformity with other studies on catch-up models. In addition, the catch-up processes of all surveyed countries were successfully mapped to the proposed model.
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1. Introduction

CoPS are high-cost, technology- and software-intensive, customized, capital goods, systems, networks, infrastructures, engineering constructs and services, produced in small-batches or one-off projects to meet the requirements of business or government users (Park, 2012). Some examples of CoPS are telecommunication syatems, aircraft and power plant systems (Miller et al., 1995). One way to illustrate the defining characteristics of CoPS is differentiating them from mass-produced goods (Davies & Hobday, 2005); there are at least two important differences: (1) CoPS are comprised of many interdependent elements that are often themselves complex, customised and high-cost; and (2) oftenly are produced in small batches or projects (Hobday et al., 2000).

Historically, CoPS was first developed and used in industrialized countries. Than developing countries became the market of these products (Kiamehr, 2013). Nowadays, these newcomer economies are attempting hard to achieve be able to develop and produce CoPS (Davies & Brady, 1998). This occurs as: (1) Latecomer firms act as sub-contractors to major international systems integrators; (2) Domestic CoPS industries emerge; (3) Firms try to support export oriented industries by producing related CoPS; and (4) When governments seek to support strategic and high-tech industries for national goals (Hobday et al., 2000).

Nevertheless, it is not easy for latecomers to get a chance to catch-up with CoPS’ pioneers (Park, 2012). Some reasons are as follows: internal weaknesses of latecomers in CoPS, inadequate time to acquire the capabilities needed to develop CoPS, due to being in the early stages of industrial development and CoPS market’s characteristics (Miller et al., 1995). In addition, the most compelling reason is that the life cycle of CoPS remains in the fluid phase of innovation in the product and the rate of innovation in the product can remain relatively high (Davies, & Brady, 1998).

At the other hand, Due to considerable differences in innovation process, the management approaches and its challenges are fundamentally differenent between CoPS and mass-produced goods (Hansen & Rush, 1998). Therefore, independent studies are required that specifically focus on CoPS’ management issues (Acha et al., 2004), like catch-up process.

Aircraft industry is a high-tech industry traditionally dominated by companies based in developed countries (Goldstein, 2002a). For many politicians, managers and academics, this sector is the quintessential ‘strategic’ economic sector1 (McGuire, 2011). The civilian aircraft industry accounted for $130 billion in global revenues in 2010 (Sturgeon et al., 2013). Also, all major forecasts agree that passenger growth will continue rising so the market would double in 2029 in comparison with 2010 (McGuire, 2011).

Aircraft is a relatively standardized product, but the aircraft industry is CoPS-like in most other respects: the aircraft is completely complex with major subsystems being complex themselves. Therefore, Major studies of high-tech sectors categorize aircraft as CoPS (McGuire, 2011).

Many latecomer countries have tried to catch-up in this sector because of its strategic nature. However, aside from being complex, other characteristics of the aircraft industry militate against market entry (McGuire, 2011). In this way, in recent years just Brazil and Canada have succeeded in the regional jet market. Many other latecomers have failed in catching-up (McGuire, 2011) and many established companies in the industry have forced to leave the industry voluntarily or involuntarily (examples include: Lockheed, Saab, Fokker, McDonnell-Douglas (MDD), British Aerospace (BAe), Raytheon and Fairchil Dornier (Steenhuis, 2004)).

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