The restructuring of mature industries and the structuring of new industries in emerging countries are having direct and important consequences on employment relationships across the globe. But rather than witnessing clear encompassing common trends in each country/region, it seems that local labour markets and firms’ distinctive human resources strategies keep shaping different patterns in the evolution of employment relationships.
As in previous years, we welcome papers that analyse both the common trends at national/regional levels and the specific patterns of transformation of employment relationships at local/firm specific levels.
A special focus will be made this year on the transformation of employment relationship in innovation activities. It must be said that little attention has been paid so far to the employment relationship in R&D centres and engineering organisations. Yet, there are clear signs that important changes are taking place at this level concerning the content and organization of work and the employment conditions and contracts. For instance, with the recent decentralization of engineering activities, the inter-sites competition that has been shaping for decades the employment relationships in factories starts to be applied to R&D centres. The trend toward more open forms of innovation activities also entail important transformations in the work and employment practices due to the reduction of internal resources and the increasing reliance on external resources to get the job done (cooperation with other firms and universities, joint public financed projects, involvement in clusters and technological platforms, etc.). Such changes not only have important consequences for work practices and conditions which are now coming up in the agenda of social dialogue, but they also entail the development of new skills and raise therefore important challenges for human resources managers and organizations.
We welcome therefore papers that will take up any of these issues both in traditional core R&D centres and in the new decentralized R&D subsidiaries.
Innovation activities though do not only concern employment relationships in engineering centres, but also in factories. The topic of smart factories, factories of future and factories 4.0 is indeed becoming more and more central to the development of the automotive industry both in mature and emerging countries. It raises many important questions concerning the transformation of work, the upgrading of skills and the impact of new technologies on work practices and employment.
Papers can directly focus on these questions, but can also look from this perspective at the current organization of work and employment in automotive factories: for instance, what are the limits/problems of the current lean factories? Does the relentless search for competitiveness raise efficiency? How the introduction of new technologies in products (new powertrains and vehicles) and processes (new production lines and robots) is dealt at the shopfloor level?
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Géry Deffontaines