The Brazilian auto industry has been a symbol of industrialization not only in that country but in Latin America in general. Although small autoparts suppliers have seldom been credited with a role in its success, Caren Addis now reveals how they participated in setting up the industry and creating a Brazilian export behemoth.
Taking the Wheel challenges traditional accounts emphasizing state-led development in Brazil by crediting the role of small companies. It tells how autoparts suppliers, working with state officials, were instrumental in shaping legislation, policies, and industrial practices from the 1950s to the present and how this alliance resulted in protectionist policies and legislation that helped form cooperative relationships between assembly operations and suppliers.
Highlighting the key role of parts firms in encouraging a "horizontal vision" of the industry, Addis reveals how common terminology--"mass production"--helped unite government and industry around a shared goal even though genuine mass production is not employed. She documents the hybrid form of organization that combines features of mass production and flexible production, tells how suppliers adapted to changing political and economic conditions, and shows how the most successful suppliers were able to organize into cartels to maintain leverage over assemblers.
This book demonstrates that there are important differences between how industry is thought to function and how it actually does--and that industrialization in Brazil is a constant process of negotiation among different kinds of firms and state officials. It redefines the study of industrialization in the automotive sector and makes a new contribution to development theory.