Study on Agility in the Automobile Industry


From hype to reality

Ludwigsburg – Agility has developed to become the decisive capability in our VUCA world – at least in the perception of some stakeholders. Whether this is merely a new kind of hype or whether agility has really arrived in the companies and is making a substantial contribution to success was the subject of a joint investigation by the management and IT consulting company MHP and the Herman Hollerith Teaching and Research Center at Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences carried out for the automotive sector.


In their study "Agility in the automobile industry – Constituent factors and effects on company performance", the authors examine the questions of how agility arises, to what extent it is already the reality in companies, and what influence it has on performance. Katharina Vollus, Senior Manager at MHP: "Basically, it's evident that we must act in an agile way in a volatile world. Previously, however, agility was a black box. It was hardly possible to say which practices were useful and had an effect. For the automobile industry, we have eliminated this blind spot."


Agility has a strong influence on performance


In order to obtain answers, the authors chose a two-stage research design. In the first step, 26 experts from different functions and hierarchy levels were questioned in interviews. Firstly, the answers were evaluated quantitatively. Secondly, their qualitative evaluation served to develop a standardized questionnaire, which was answered in a second step by almost 1400 managers and employees online.


The comprehensive data thus generated clearly indicate that agility has a strong influence on practically all aspects of a company's performance: for example, on profitability and cost-effectiveness, on product quality and innovative power, as well as on customer satisfaction. It is also evident that meanwhile agility is frequently a fixed component of corporate strategy.


Backlog in implementation


"However, we also identified some factors in which there is still optimization potential," says Prof. Dr. Alexander Rossmann from Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences. "Especially with regard to structures, processes and employee competence, the companies are evidently not yet as far as some experts assume." The differences in the assessment of the use of agile methods such as Scrum or Design Thinking are especially pronounced. Whereas the experts questioned confirm the high relevance and broad spread of such methods, the participating employees rate the existence of agile methods as below average.


The study illuminates a number of such details, and thus provides an exact picture of the current situation regarding agility in the automobile industry. Correlations are also revealed that provide valuable impulses for the transformation of every individual company. In addition, the eleven theses that the authors formulate as the quintessence of their investigation and contain concrete recommendations for action are also helpful.


The study is available for downloading free of charge on the MHP website:


Katharina Vollus and Prof. Dr. Alexander Rossmann will be pleased to answer any questions on agility in the automobile industry. Simply send your question to: PublicRelations(at)


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