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A Typology of plants in global manufacturing networks

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The purpose of this paper is to propose a new, empirically derived typology of plants in the international manufacturing network of multinational companies. In this research, network analysis has been used as a methodology for understanding the position of plants in international manufacturing networks. The focus has been primarily on the intangible know-how network, and secondarily on the physical, logistic network. The authors' analysis leads to four types of plants with different network roles. The plants differ in the extent to which they share innovations with the other plants, in the level of visits to and from the other plants, and in the level of communication with the other plants. Their analysis shows that the different types of plants play a different strategic role in the company, have a different focus and differ in age, autonomy and level of resources and investments. Also, the analysis suggests that the evolution of the plant depends to some extent on the network role of the plant. Finally, two scenarios for the development of a strong network role are identified.

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