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Engineering Products is a long-established British engineering firm which for much of the 20th century produced fasteners for industrial clients. The table below shows the geographical distribution of sales and employment in 1996,
The company undertook substantial restructuring in the 1980's, selling off or closing many of its activities so that currently it has three business areas; automotive components, defence and industrial services.
The largest of the three business areas is automotive components, employing 60% of the group's workforce. The division is a first-tier supplier, dealing with several of the multinational final producers of cars, and is less concentrated in the UK than the company as a whole; Table 11.2 shows that only a small proportion of the division's sales are made in Britain, while an even smaller proportion of the workforce is employed there.
Continental Europe is the base for a much larger proportions of sales and employment, with most of this being in Germany, France and Spain. The case study concentrates on this division of the multinational.
In recent years the pressure from the automotive division's customers has become a central force in shaping how it manages its international operations in general and its international workforce in particular. The customers themselves have sought to standardise their methods of production and working practices through a process of sharing 'best practice' across sites. This has meant that, while the cars sold vary in minor respects between countries, they are produced in increasingly similar ways. ...
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