Supply chains under pressure: internationalization and division of labour

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Supplier industries play a fundamental role in structuring and restructuring the automotive industry. At the same time, a deep restructuring of the automotive industry has significantly impacted the organization and performance of automotive suppliers. The rise of emerging countries, the authorities' local contents requirements and emissions regulations, the reallocation and repatriation of production and innovation capabilities, the new engine technologies, and modularization, lead to very contrasted organizations and structures of supply chains at national, subnational and regional (free trade areas, for instance) levels. In some countries like Mexico, auto parts are the main driver of automotive development, in other countries with large markets such as Brazil, India and China, they are an integral part of automotive development, while in others like Japan, a transfer to other parts of Asia is under way, which greatly contrasts with the Russian case where we observe (due to a lack of historical integration) a weak international and national supply base. Taking into account this set of questions and situations, we emphasize this year three main overall topics.
First, the search for alliances between traditional actors and new partners has to be analysed, especially the way it affects the geography and the organization of the industry. Demands for sustainable development in the automobile industry have led to technological innovations (new powertrain systems as well as reduction of emissions linked to traditional internal combustion engines). It seems that the race for newer and better powertrains leads to a reconcentration of RD&E (research, development and engineering) activities. Is there a trend towards recentralization of RD&E? Will this impact local production chains? Furthermore, new actors are emerging alongside the traditional manufacturers, suppliers and dealerships. There is a need for analysis linking the race for greener cars and the supply base. Second, the restructuring and the configuration of the geography of production is directly linked with the type and degree of internationalization. While large global suppliers have accelerated their internationalisation trajectories, another movement can also be observed, involving the acquisition of European or American supplier companies by Indian or Chinese investors. How are crucial decisions taken – at the company level – regarding off-shoring, near-shoring and re-shoring? How does it impact the transactions within supply chains? 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. The research agenda has to explore the capacity of suppliers (who, how and with whom?) to build and/or to sustain global value chains, having a role of bridge between several territories. Third, following these two main features, there are new challenges (and also opportunities) faced by suppliers, even greater than those of carmakers in terms of competitiveness. Directly linked with this question, a typology of suppliers according to several parameters, but especially along their products (body parts, transmission, etc.), should be built to understand the current development of global value chains and their mutual influences in the structuring and restructuring in both markets, and the formation of new automobile spaces.

We then call for papers in this theme dealing with those three dimensions: the search for alliances between traditional actors and new partners – internationalization and the restructuring of the geography of production and innovation – the new challenges in terms of local and global competitiveness. Clearly, all these are key questions both at an operational level but also in terms of the research perspective that the Gerpisa Colloquium is trying to adopt. We would welcome relevant studies contributing to better understanding, including historical ones.

Copyright© Gerpisa
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Géry Deffontaines

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