International Colloquium 2011 - Call for papers

19th International Colloquium of Gerpisa

Wednesday 8 June 2011, 11:00 CEST - Friday 10 June 2011, 18:30 CEST


Organisation committee
Deadline for sending the proposals: 
Wed, 02/02/2011 - 17:00
Deadline for submitting the papers: 
Fri, 04/01/2011 - 17:00

In 2007 Gerpisa launched its 5th international research programme on "the automobile industry and sustainable development". Its focus was the co-existence of both the traditional contraints of the automobile industry and more recent ones linked to forms of social and environmental sustainability and the extent to which this would lead to synergies and/or trade-offs at different levels of decision-making. We assumed that that the conflicts that emerged and the innovations adopted to address them would differ among firms, localities and/or national and regional contexts.

Since 2007, the work conducted and presented at Gerpisa's annual international meeting has largely confirmed this assumption. The traditional and the new constraints have combined in different ways to reconfigure automobile firms and industries generally. We have had to integrate the impact of the financial and economic crises of 2008 and 2009. These have caused firms to fight for their survival at the same time as they develop practices of sustainable development and both dimensions have had to be taken into account by researchers in our programme.

In 2011, the characteristics of the post-crisis landscape of the automobile industry remain unclear. The current period is one of industrial transformation of a scale previously unimaginable. On the one hand, emerging markets have grown significantly and the growth of the Chinese market, in particular, has become of central importance. On the other hand, environmental concerns have successfully highlighted the question of the sustainability of the automobile's continued development if it remains dependent on the internal combustion engine. If the first automobile revolution was the mass development of the car itself, it is possible that the combination of these two factors will create the stage for a second automobile revolution.

This Call for Papers thus asks for submissions that examine if and how this second automobile revolution is occurring in different firms and in different regions of the world.

5 specific series of questions are proposed:
- The transformation of car manufacturers, their activities and their strategies in the current period.
- The transformations of large traditional and emerging automobile industries and the policies and institutions that structure the industry dynamics and functioning.
- The transformations of production, of work and of the negotiations of industrial relations that determine the global dynamics of the automobile industry.
- The technological and systems transformations that are linked with the technological innovations that are emerging in firms and in the public policy arena.
- The transformations in demand that are required to adjust to the fact that macro-economic policies and public policy designed to regulate automobile usage patterns are altering the place occupied by the automobile in household budget and mobility systems.


Automobile manufacturers

Theme N°: 

Faced with crises in the American, European and Japanese markets, large automobile manufacturers are simultaneously positioning themselves in emerging markets and developing new forms of motorisation. The global landscape is altering as both traditional manufacturers and their Indian and Chinese challengers address existing problems that have been exacerbated by the crisis and react to emerging issues of globalization and sustainable development. During Gerpisa's international conference, significant time will be allocated to the presentation and discussion of these industry dynamics linked to the different components of the strategies of the automobile firms.

Automobile industries

Theme N°: 

Although there has been much emphasis on the "globalisation" of the industry, automobile markets and production remain largely dependent on the economic, social and institutional characteristics of territories. The reconfiguration of the geographic organization of the automobile industry thus merits analysis with research focusing on territories. This includes consideration of the dynamics of assembly operations, of OEMs and of the supplier base covering both questions of production and conception. Also of interest are the overall processes by which markets for vehicles emerge and the automobile business structures and restructures itself. These processes involve the interaction of public and private actors that structures the dynamics of supply and demand and thus require an analysis of public policies related to the automobile.

Production, work and industrial relations

Theme N°: 

The production systems of the automobile industry have traditionally been dependent on the industrial relations systems in operation which have, in turn, been linked to those of the societies from which they have emerged. These relations have determined both production conditions and the market opportunities for manufacturers to sell their vehicles but the previous equilibrium may have been undermined by the restructuring of the value chain and new production geographies. The growth of both emerging markets and new forms of motorization mean that issues of industrial relations in the automobile industry in different regions of the world merit further research.

Furthermore, after the financial crisis, at least in Europe and some other regions, the specific role of states and the relation between regulation by markets, by organisations, by public regulation regimes and other institutions is reconsidered by many collective actors. The more 'coordinated market economies' showed up as more successful in adapting to the new conditions than the very open 'liberal market economies'. Some countries managed to combine high employment stability with high working time flexibility in order to accommodate to economic crisis.

These experiences invite to re-evaluate the role and weight of labour regulation:
- How did collective and corporate actors (unions, works or enterprise councils, shop stewards, employer associations, companies, states) react to the challenges of financial and economic crisis after 2008?
- What is the role of the new EU-member states concerning labour regulation: are they recovering wage levels and is there a homogenisation of employment conditions or are they specialising in low wages and precarious jobs?
- Which is the role of the European level of regulation, like the European Unions and Employer Associations and the European Works Councils? How are the Social Dialogue and labour regulation concepts like 'flexicurity' developing?
- Which are the most striking tendencies of labour regulation in the BRICs and other emerging car producing countries?

Technological transformations, systemic transformations

Theme N°: 

Demands for sustainable development in the automobile industry have led to technological innovation that is largely based on new engines and/or on the reduction of emissions linked to traditional engines. Both upstream and downstream in the value chain, new actors are emerging alongside the traditional manufacturers, suppliers and dealerships to participate, along with public policy makers, in the emergence of the "new automobile ecosystem". Both the technological and the organizational and commercial innovations require further research if we are to understand the characteristics of the new systems and evaluate the extent to which it is similar or different to previous systems that structured the automobile industry.

Transformations in demand

Theme N°: 

Future demand for automobiles and, in particular, for "green" cars is one of the key elements that will determine the feasibility of the strategies being adopted by different actors in the automobile industry. In both emerging and developed markets, this future demand will depend on macro-economic dynamics and on how the rewards of growth are shared among firms, households and the state. It will also depend on household spending on substitute products and services and, in particular, on housing cost. It will depend on the strategies adopted by firms and their technological choices. Finally, it will depend on public policies and specifically on fiscal choices. Differences in these factors across different countries and different regions are thus of great interest.

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