Employment relationships: competencies in transition?

Theme N°: 

The employment relations (skill development, work organization, industrial relations and collective bargaining) play a central role in the (re)shaping of “firm government compromises” at the factory, regional, national and supranational levels.
In a context of rapid evolution of the automotive industry’s geopolitical balance, the way foreign and national carmakers and suppliers (re)build their industrial relations (especially the balance between several scales of these compromises) appears as a central aspect to be inquired. How do “traditional” companies, trade unions and states deal with the pressure that can appear in traditional countries due to the growth of production facilities in emerging countries? How do the states (regulations) and the companies (strategies) create systems of employment relationships in emerging countries? Do we observe stronger competition (both national and international) between factories of a same firm? Following this first series of questions, there is a second important aspect affecting the evolution of employment relationships, which is the general problem of “inclusivity” (the insertion of employees into the firm strategies’ negotiation). How do trade unions (in traditional and emerging countries) deal with the growth of new technologies that might affect the structure of employment? How do employer organizations reshape the traditional employment systems and how do they develop emerging systems? What are their functions in the construction of labor markets (whether internal or classic)? This year, we will pay special attention on communications focusing on the changes in the Asian automotive industry (single company studies or country studies), and the correlation between the dynamics in Asia and the Rest of World (comparative studies of companies and countries). The stagnation of the Japanese car market and the rapid expansion of Japanese companies in emerging economies put employment relations in Japan under pressure of restructuring. How do the Japanese companies, trade unions and state deal with this challenge? China, by contrast, has experienced a decade of high-speed growth partially based on an overexploitation of the labor force. How do companies, trade unions and the state react in order to establish a more sustainable form of employment relations? In the Korean auto industry, working strikes of workers for higher wages set the agenda for the discussions. How do these conflicts affect the future strategies of Hyundai and which effects do they have on the strategies of e.g. General Motors in Korea? India is just starting to build an automotive industry based on a partially completely inexperienced rural workforce. How do the industry actors deal with these particular conditions? Very little is known about employment relationships in other Asian emerging economies like Indonesia, Thailand or Malaysia. Domestic carmakers and suppliers in Asian countries are of particular interest. Do they develop their own approaches to employment relations or rather try to emulate foreign companies? In order to grasp the particularities of the development of employment relations in Asia, this stream also invites studies comparing Asian companies/countries with companies and countries from other world regions, in particular from other emerging economies and from USA and Europe. Western European carmakers and suppliers rarely use Asian production capacities for low cost oriented export processing. Does this have consequences for the loci of production and innovation? When US or European carmakers build up product innovation activities, how do they integrate these activities in their global innovation networks?

We call for papers in this theme dealing with those three dimensions: the (re)shaping of employment relations – inclusivity, governance compromises, and (re)building of employment systems – dynamics of employment relationships in Asia.

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