21st International Colloquium of Gerpisa
The 20th GERPISA international colloquium in Krakow traced back, among others, the overall evolution of the global automotive industry in recent years, and allowed us to identify the main challenges in terms of global geopolitical equilibrium. These challenges appear to be strongly interconnected, and must be thought in a systematic and evolving framework. First, the traditional automotive production spaces (North America, Western Europe, Northeast Asia) are counterbalanced by new territories, at their frontiers (South-America, Central and Eastern Europe, China, and India) and even beyond (North Africa, South-east Asia, Middle-east Asia). This process has to be questioned from the technological, economic, historic, productive, geopolitical, firm-level and institutional levels. Second, the transition towards new modalities of mobility and the market construction of new territories should be analysed more carefully, taking into account the reconstruction of traditional value chains and the building of new value chains.
Based on these assumptions and in respect of our present international programme, the 21st GERPISA international colloquium aims at grasping these trends through case studies and more theoretical approaches. The main objective is to focus on market building and competitiveness, especially in regard of the reconstruction of the European automotive industry, without eluding the other territories in relation with the past and present researches of the GERPISA. All proposals are welcome. As part of the GERPISA International Research programme that is currently being developed and to prepare the opening of GERPISA’s 21st International Conference, we would like to invite social science researchers with an interest in the automotive industry to reflect upon this dual structuring/restructuring process.
More specifically, we are calling for empirical and/or conceptual studies focusing on the automotive industry’s new global geopolitical order and organised into seven main themes:
i) The social, political, and economic construction of markets: distribution and services, new cars/used cars
ii) New kinds of mobility: old and new business models
iii) Manufacturers trajectories and corporate governance: production and R&D
iv) Supply chains and suppliers trajectories: towards the global value chain?
v) Emergence and restructuring processes affecting the American, Asian and European industries: policies taking into account competitiveness
vi) Competitiveness, costs, division of labour and changes in employment relationships
Among others, the sustainability of traditional markets, the consumption behaviours and the distribution networks have to be analysed more systematically. Historically, the general framework of productive models developed in our network stressed the various links between macroeconomic trends and productive organizations. To that extent, one conclusion is that some key players largely built and build the automotive markets in traditional territories and in emerging territories. The identification and roles of these key players have to be explored, especially in the building of new markets. As for the traditional markets, they are split in used cars and new vehicles, with a rather high percentage of old cars. The question of the capacity of car manufacturers to grasp this market through the dealers’ networks (distribution) has to be raised, as well as the construction of markets in new territories. As for the consumption behaviours, the point is that the markets are far to be homogeneous and, for example, the sustainability of new mobility is directly linked to the incentives towards new forms of consumption.
In that perspective, presentations based on consumption behaviours (spatial and social segmentations, consumption choices and practices, mobility trends, etc.), market building and structure (in terms of segments and new cars/used cars, carmaker marketing and product strategies, new actors in the market building, services, etc.), and the distribution networks (historical framing, employment conditions, typology of contracts, etc.), whether in emerging countries or more mature ones, are much welcome. In addition, we also have to think about the policies raised in each region, especially when dealing with the market of used pieces and with the raising of free-trade agreements. The studies presented here will be fully explored during the sessions that the GERPISA International Conference will dedicate to questions of this nature.
An earlier GERPISA International Research programme entitled “Sustainable development and the automobile industry” demonstrated that sustainability issues comprise a leading vector of change for automotive markets, technologies and value chains. It also revealed that questions pertaining to the sustainable development of the automobile product are just as meaningful in emerging spaces as they are in the older developed countries. This makes it essential that issues revolving around driving systems or new forms of access (which can be more or less limited and/or shared) be fully integrated into any examination of the new automotive landscapes’ progressive structuring. The magnitude of the changes putting pressure on different automotive system actors to adapt their driving systems and acclimatize to radically new market environments have had a destabilising effect on organisations. These actors are having to open up to other partners coming from industries that are not part of their customary field of influence. They are also having to develop much more proactive relationships with public policymakers.
Towards this end, this second section of our call for communications invites all researchers interested in current experiments promoting a transition towards greater sustainability within this industry and market, and involving all different forms of mobility. Whether the focus is on public policy, manufacturers’ innovation strategies and/or other value chain issues, regions/spaces where mobility innovation is taking place, the papers focusing on these experiments and their adaptability are of great interest.
Our last-year colloquium showed that manufacturers are engaged in a process of adaptation/reconfiguration of their activities, to various degrees, corresponding to the emergence of new territories, new consumption behaviours, and political incentives and sustainability of their product policies. In that respect, it is of much importance to examine policies of manufacturers, especially in contrast with their past trajectories, taking into account their product and R&D policies, commercial targets and manufacturing policies. The compromises of corporate governance might be reinvestigated, since one might expect that strong evolutions are still to come, especially when thinking about the internationalization of innovation capabilities. Their R&D management and innovation organisation led to the emergence within the automotive sector of "open innovation" experiments and practices worthy of full attention from social science researchers. The trajectories, compromises and actors taking part in these decision-making processes have to be questioned in terms of their impacts on the adaptation/reconfiguration processes.
Understandably, particular attention will be paid to the productive and commercial ramifications of manufacturers’ emerging country strategies. The same applies to examinations of the design activities that are starting to be located in spaces that used to be considered peripheral, or dedicated product policies that certain manufacturers are now developing. Lastly, although studies of large global carmakers from Europe, the United States, Japan or Korea will continue to play an important role in this analysis, studies of emerging market manufacturers that are independent or have ties to the aforementioned group are also welcome (i.e. Chana, Tata, FAW, Geely, Chery, Donfeng, Beijing Automotive and BYD). Studies focusing on these issues in the automotive industry (and even in other sectors) merit further exploration. The same applies to research into new forms of the international organisation of design activities associated with the rising power of Indian, Brazilian, Russian or Chinese design centres.
The modularization of the supply chains that we pointed out during our previous research programs created a somewhat “dual value chain” in terms of capabilities. One can point out the fact that there is a tremendous gap, in terms of internationalization, investment capabilities and adaptability to the new markets, between, on the one hand, big and intermediate firms, and on the other hand, SMEs. First-tier suppliers became big players in the automotive industry, and their roles even evolved in this period of transition towards more sustainable mobility. Here, the main point is to examine various trajectories of first-tier suppliers, from traditional and emergent territories, and the way they build transactions with their own suppliers and their customer firms. As for the SMEs, the question is to know under what kind of conditions they are able to maintain their activities on traditional territories and to develop on emergent territories, local and foreign suppliers. We can also observe the acquisition of European or American supplier companies by Indian or Chinese investors, which might have tremendous impact on the geopolitical order for supply systems.
In this context, several questions have to be raised. First, the current research agenda has to explore the capacity of suppliers (who and how?) to build global value chains, having a role of bridge between several territories. Second, directly linked with this question, a typology of suppliers according several parameters, but especially their functions (body parts, transmission, etc.), should be built to understand the current development of global value chains. Third, the evolutions of transactions within supply chains, taking also into account the roles of SMEs, is still an important aspect. Fourth, the question then becomes which industrial and/or technological strategies are at work here; what role national and local public policy plays in these movements; and what kind of future landscape is being created through these changes. Clearly these are key questions both at an operational level but also in terms of the research perspective that the conference is trying to adopt. We would welcome relevant studies contributing to better understanding, including historical ones.
In our four-year research programme an emphasis is put on the comparison of the structuring/restructuring processes in the three main automotive regions (America, Asia, Europe). We dedicate this section to the American and Asian cases, keeping in mind that, at the core of these processes, the question of competitiveness and capacities transferability is of much relevance. Our last symposium led us to the conclusion that the restructuration processes are directly linked with the structuration of new spaces, at both firm and political levels. The aim now is to identify these linkages, in terms of technology assimilation, firm product policies, local government incentives and so on. Another key point is the capability of firms to develop in various spaces while maintaining (or not) their own organizations. Finally, it is also of much importance to accumulate material about the regional integration processes (commercial, fiscal, labour, market policies) to fully understand the various emergence processes in America and Asia. This is especially relevant when dealing with questions of competitiveness and competition between different regions.
Towards this end and without neglecting the need for empirical studies, we will be paying special attention to communications that offer an analytical and social comparison perspective. The goal here is to situate with respect one another past and present development issues taking place in these two world regions. Thus, questions pertaining to the link between local supply, demand and design - and the forms that they assume depending on the period in question, the country, the political, economic, industrial, commercial and fiscal policy or investors’ origins - should clearly be analysed or least presented in proposed studies. Researches based on and discussing the role of competitiveness in the structuring/restructuring processes in these two regions, also in a historical perspective, are also expected.
Directly in relation with the 5th section, this section addresses the restructuring/structuring processes in Europe. The 2008-2009 crisis revealed a startling gap between the different dynamics at work in the leading developed country markets and automotive industries. This led to more or less violent restructuring processes that have generally caused state authorities to intervene on what has at times been a massive scale. Now, in 2012-2013, the financial crisis still affects European countries (the so-called second effect of the crisis), at various degrees, and the sustainability and efficiency of the European Union economic policy has to be questioned. Moreover, there is no doubt that in our research agenda, the dimensions of competitiveness and international comparison of competitiveness have to be highlighted, since we lack tools to implement sound international comparison researches in Europe. Finally, a comparative study of these restructuring processes in Europe well beyond the year 2009 could teach us a lot about this period.
In that respect, there would be particular interest in studies of the public policies that are being implemented based on varying degrees of cooperation with industrial actors and aimed at encouraging such changes and/or adapting them more or less explicitly to the search for a sustainable mode of development for this industry and for mobility in general. Studies should be comparative in nature and cover the localisation and/or re-allocation choices that affect carmakers or suppliers’ production and design activities. Special attention should be paid to the role of regional organisations, the opportunities they offer and the constraints and incentives that they may structure.
Transformations of the global geopolitics of the automotive sector, relating specifically to the restructuring and structuring processes affecting the older and new production spaces that are relevant to such changes, have led to an in-depth modification of employment relationships within this field and even beyond. In this context, the competition that exists between transnational companies in terms of production sites and regulation spaces constitutes a powerful lever for reorganising employment relationships as management sees fit. It remains that the establishment of international framework agreements, codes of conduct and global and/or European work councils also opens up new transnational spaces where social partners can negotiate and harmonise regulations.
Given the renewed heterogeneity of national and transnational regulation spaces and the corporate wage labour nexus systems generated by such transformations, these developments deserve to be studied on different levels. From a comparative perspective as such, we welcome any studies covering such topics. Special attention will be paid this year to studies elucidating the restructuring processes in countries characterised by high labour costs. As the crisis deepens the pressure exerted on the employment relationship in these countries increases and the survival of many production sites is now hanging on the negotiation on new agreements aimed at improving their “competiveness” against low labour costs sites. Such a process raises many questions that are important for our international programme. For instance, how the notion of “competiveness” is framed and used by the different actors in these negotiations? How the growing interdependence between the structuring of new industries and the restructuring of the old ones is playing in this process and with which effects? What kind of new compromises of government are emerging in these industries? Are we witnessing a race to the bottom, or this restructuring process can lay the foundations of a renewed domestic and international “competiveness” of these industries? In particular, we should ask whether the development of zero carbon automobiles does or doesn’t open the opportunity for new socials deal on green technologies and jobs, which means investigating its impact on the structure of branch competencies, employment and international division of labour.
Concerning the BRIC countries, the rapid rise of these markets and the greater range of competencies required by local industries seem to imply increasing tension on their labour markets and more pressure on companies to recruit, train and retain their workforce. Questions remain, however, as to the realities in this situation and how such developments might play out at the employment relationship level. Both case studies and national sectoral analyses will be welcome.
The GERPISA (http://gerpisa.org/en), in partnership with the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management (IJATM, (http://www.inderscience.com/jhome.php?jcode=IJATM), launches this year its Young Author’s Prize, that will be delivered each year from 2013 on, aiming at valorising the work of a young researcher on automobile industry. This prize, consisting of the publication of the paper in a special issue of IJATM and a 1000 euros’ reward, intends to encourage young scholars to develop their enquiries on automobile industry.
The GERPISA, as an international and interdisciplinary network of social scientists on automobile industry, has a long history of researches in this field. Its 6th International Program (2012-1015), “Structuring new automotive industries, restructuring traditional automotive industries, and the new geopolitics of the global automotive sector”, focuses on the various dynamics that give shape to the past, present, and future evolutions of the worldwide automobile industry. Its aim is to identify these dynamics, and to shed the light on their economic, social, and political impacts.
Requirements to submit a paper proposal:
1. Master, Ph.D. students, post-doc, etc. (not full-time associate professor, professor or researcher) being under 37 years old;
2. Paper based on the analysis (whether theoretical, methodological, or empirical) of the automobile industry (topics have to cover one of the seven themes of the symposium);
3. Presentation of the paper during the 21st international colloquium, “The search for ‘competitiveness’: corporate strategies and public policies in the world automobile industry”, Paris, 12th of June – 14th of June 2013;
4. Submission online (http://gerpisa.org/node/1945) and email (name, date of birth, nationality, status, University, topic) to Giulio Calabrese (firstname.lastname@example.org), Stéphane Heim (email@example.com), and Tommaso Pardi (firstname.lastname@example.org) before the 28th of February 2013.
A special assessment committee will be launched, each member attending several presentations of young scholars during the different sections of the symposium and evaluating the candidates. During the last day of the colloquium, this assessment committee will report the results during the meeting of the GERPISA’s steering committee, and will communicate the decision to all young scholars present during the colloquium.
The criterions of the assessment are based on the relevance of the topic inquired, the presentation and the accuracy of the results, the quality of the methodological work, and the review of the literature. All kinds of work in the field of social sciences (history, management, economics, sociology, geography, political science, etc.) and dealing with automobile industry (accepted for a presentation during the 21st international colloquium) are welcome. After the decision of the GERPISA’s steering committee, the young author’s paper selected will be refereed through a double-blind process, and then published in a special issue of the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management.
We are looking forward to reading your papers and attending your presentations.
The steering committee of GERPISA and the Editorial Board of IJATM
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Géry Deffontaines