New Drivers That Alter the Geographic Organisation of Production: Buyer-Supplier Relationships in the UK Space Sector

Authors: Chloe Billing*, City-REDI, Birmingham Business School
Topics: Economic Geography, Business Geography
Keywords: Organisation of Production, buyer-supplier-relationships, production projects, satellite manufacturing
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The aim of this paper is to define and group the different drivers that alter the geographic organisation of production across supply chains. The primary method of data collection for this research was eighty semi-structured interviews with representatives from across the UK space sector and focused on their buyer-supplier-relationships (BSRs) between different production projects. In a satellite mission, there are three related production projects involved: (i) manufacture of the satellite; (ii) operation of the satellite; and (iii) satellite-enabled application provision. These linked projects are delivered by different groups of firms and consist of multiple production tasks. The projects are linked by the following buyer-supplier-relationships (BSRs): (i) sale of the satellite (linking manufacturing and satellite operation); and (ii) sale of satellite-enabled application (linking satellite operation and application). These BSRs vary in spatiality (some will require geographic proximity and others will not) and also by who the most powerful actor(s) are. There are a number of factors which impact on the nature of these BSRs, including: (i) the stage of the satellite mission (i.e. which project); (ii) whether the satellite is intended for commercial, institutional or military purposes; (iii) the form of the satellite-enabled applications (whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer); and (iv) external governance factors. The findings highlight the importance of focussing on more than a single procurement moment (or project) when exploring the organisation of production. Additionally, the findings show that the hierarchical relationships which link key production projects can be more complex than the literature suggests.

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