China’s automotive market has continued to grow. Both auto production and sales ranked the first in the world for many years. In order to grab bigger market share, competition among auto companies is becoming increasingly fierce. As a result, automobile manufacturers pay more attention to the improvement of aspects such as product design, quality management, marketing, and after-sales service, so as to continuously enhance their core competence. The competition of automobile manufacturers has risen to the level of supply chain, and the competence of supply chain integration focusing on original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has received increasing amount of attention. Automobile logistics is an important link in the entire automotive supply chain, the core competence of which directly affects the brand competitiveness of OEMs. At present, China's major OEMs arrange their logistics business in the industrial chain using 3PL service providers (3PLs). Accordingly, studying 3PLs’ core competence is very valuable for OEMs going through supply chain integration. This enables them to respond actively to global competition and challenges, enhance brand competitiveness, and achieve supply chain synergy and optimized management.
In this paper, based on theory of strategy as practice (SAP), and a longitudinal case study on Chongqing Changan Minsheng APLL Logistics Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Changan Minsheng or CMAL), the influencing factors and development patterns of the company's core competence are studied. This study presents a theoretical model for the evolution of core competence. The study found that the core competence of 3PLs is related to the needs of the OEM, and a series of influencing factors have also developed as the environment changes. These factors are the result of the macroeconomy meeting with external factors related to industrial conditions and internal factors.
First of all, based on the review of related literatures, this paper used the approach ofgrounded theory to analyze the large amount of data collected. Through qualitative analysis of personnel interviews, board resolutions, organizational structure, official government document, and first- and second-level code analysis, the influencing factors of the company’s core competence have been identified, and the mutual relationship between the two confirmed that the relationship capital (equity relationship, supplier capability) has a key impact on core competence. Second, based on a large amount of coded data,this study concluded a theoretical model for the evolution of core competence. Through the analysis of the evolution of the company in three different periods, the patter of evolution is identified, indicating that core competence issubject to changes. Last but not least, facing the integration of supply chain, the study proposed research prospects for other circumstances.
Keywords: Automotive industry, logistics, supply chain integration, core competence, relationship capital, SAP.