Packard Electric/Delphi and the birth of the autopart cluster: the case of Chihuahua, Mexico


The purpose of this article is to describe, from a dual perspective, the birth and evolution of the technological cluster located in Chihuahua, Mexico. It reconstructs Packard Electric–Delphi’s evolutionary path as a dominant company, alongside the technological trajectory of the wiring harness. I build a taxonomy whose purpose is to distinguish different moments in the harness history. This approach to the harness demands systemic distinctions of a dynamic, quantitative and qualitative nature. The formation of the electrical/electronics cluster of automotive parts located in Chihuahua can be understood in the context of Packard Electric’s integration/disintegration dynamics. This regional and international reconstruction process reflects: (1) the accumulation of technological and organizational capabilities inside a firm; (2) technological competition within the sector; (3) the fact that each company follows particular technological learning ‘paths’ as well as a unique regional technological cluster formation (technological path); and (4) that the integration/disintegration dynamics of firms are difficult and unstable processes, dependent on the difference between internal and external transactional costs.