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Flexible Automation in Developing Countries: The impact on scale and scope and the implications for location of production

Ludovico Alcorta (Maastricht School of Management, the Netherlands)



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05 November 1998
Development studies; Production & quality control management; Computer aided manufacture (CAM)
The diffusion of computer-based or flexible automation (FA) has been seen as a key to the future industrialization in developing countries. If, as was thought, the impact of FA on economics of scope and optimal scale were to reduce optimal scales and therefore firm sizes, industrial production would be ideally located in developing countries. However, Flexible Automation in Developing Countries reveals that the diffusion of FA may actually act as an obstacle to industrialization in these countries. Ludovico Alcorta examines the extent of, and motives for, the diffusion of FA at global level and then turns to the local and firm level, bringing together in-depth studies of sixty-two firms in Brazil, India, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela. Research focuses upon the impact of computer-numerically controlled machine tools on scale and scope by exploring changes in lot sizes and product variety (product scale and scope), total plant output (plant scale) and total firm output (firm scale). Barriers to setting up FA-based operations are discussed, as are factors which may affect a decision to locate in a developing country. The contributed studies reveal a relatively slow diffusion of FA in developing countries and it is demonstrated that while FA possibly increases scope, it also requires that plant output be increased in order to maintain efficiency. Alcorta concludes that location in developing countries will probably only be viable for large domestic firms, multinationals seeking to relocate simple but labour intensive assembly processes and firms in countries with significant domestic markets. This work is unique in addressing scale and scope issues in developing countries and in the wealth of information regarding machine tools which it provides. The data provided in the appendix includes official United Nations data, previously unpublished. This will be of use for all research into trends in the use of machine tools. Ghayur Alam, Centre for Technology Studies, Haryana, India; Peter Brimble, The Brooker Group Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand; Hacer Ansal, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey; Koza E
Edited by:   Ludovico Alcorta (Maastricht School of Management the Netherlands)
Imprint:   Routledge
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Volume:   No.6
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 1,270mm
Weight:   816g
ISBN:   9780415191531
ISBN 10:   041519153X
Series:   UNU/INTECH Studies in New Technology and Development
Pages:   488
Publication Date:   05 November 1998
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Professional & Vocational ,  A / AS level ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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