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Digital transformation in the automotive supply chain: China, Germany, Italy and Japan in a comparative perspective

Margherita Russo

DEMB Working Paper Series 151


A wide literature on digital transformation in manufacturing and services has explored its impact on long term changes in labour demand and skills and on productivity and growth. A new perspective on the ongoing digital transformation has been prompted by Oecd to highlight specific metrics needed to assess its impact on the economy and society and to support innovat on policies. Drawing on these contributions, this paper aims to shed light on the impact of digital transformation on the reorganization and relocation of the various segments of the automotive supply chain. In particular, it will focus on the effects generated by different paces of adoption of digital technologies in this supply chain, with regard to both the various segments and the various sizes of companies, in different countries. The causes of this heterogeneity will be discussed and the implications for the full impact of the ongoing transformation will be considered in relation to industrial and innovation policy in Europe. The paper addresses the issue by reviewing empirical evidence on the automotive supply chain, which includes the most advanced manufacturing and service companies that are now adopting digital technologies. Evidence from case studies in the automotive industry in China, Germany, Italy and Japan will help in identifying the main challenges of digital transformation for European countries, which will involve a strongly interrelated supply chain both within and outside Europe