A consultant with McKinsey & Company surveys the international aluminum industry and asks why its various activities are divided among firms in the way that they are. These components include the minding of bauxite, its refining into alumina, aluminum smelting, fabrication, and manufacture of the final product. What is it about this industry that encourages joint ventures in some cases, long-term contracts in others, and vertical integration and merger in still others?
The author identifies and analyzes the factors which motivate firms to adopt one or another of these patterns of doing business. He draws on and extends recent developments in theory relating to the operation of markets and organizations, and tests the power of theories to explain what is observed in the industry. He has assembled a great deal of empirical evidence, focusing on the United States, Japan, and Australia. The book should become the standard study of the aluminum industry.