Old and new spaces of the automotive industry: towards a new balance?

22nd International Colloquium of GERPISA

4 June, 2014 - 09:00 - 6 June, 2014 - 17:00

Kyoto University

Yoshida Honmachi, Sakyo-Ku

Kyoto, Japan

Deadline for sending the proposals: 
13 January, 2014 (All day)
Deadline for submitting the papers: 
20 April, 2014 (All day)

Having put the emphasis on Europe during our two last colloquiums, this year’s colloquium in Kyoto will shed light on the overall tendencies in the Asian automobile industry. Asia appears as the main “driver of change”, in terms of sales and production volumes, and from the point of view of firm strategies, local policies, industrial policies, innovation (technologies, products, organizations), etc. Besides, the main ambition of the 22nd international colloquium of GERPISA is a deepening of our understanding of the restructuring/structuring processes, and their relationships with one another (codeterminations and mutual influences). The reshaping of the international automotive industry since the mid-2000s can not be fully grasped without taking into account these factors, at firm, supra national, national, and regional levels. For instance, it is important to understand that industrial policies in emerging markets can greatly influence local, domestic and international profit strategies of global carmakers and suppliers. It also appears that these trends have a deep impact on the reconfiguration of national automotive industries’ structures and organizations. To that extent, the role of newcomers in the overall restructuring of the industry has to be analyzed from the viewpoint of balance of power. Furthermore, this role not only reconfigures the power relationships within the industry, but also the productive organization and the patterns of transactions at several levels of the industry. From this perspective, the colloquium has for its second main target, from a more theoretical standpoint, the grasping of the interactions between institutions, markets and organizations, and how they relate to the formulation of local and global equilibriums.

We group these three main dimensions – Asia as the main driver of change; restructuring/structuring processes and their determinations; and the evolutions of the balance of power as a result of such a process –, into the 6 main themes below, and we call for communications accordingly. We also draw your attention to the special issue of the international journal IJATM that will be based on a selection of the best papers presented during the colloquium, including the winner of the young author’s prize (vii).

i) Automobilisation of societies, new and used car markets, and business opportunities in the industry
ii) New powertrains and new forms of mobilities: global tendencies, politics and markets
iii) Carmakers at a crossroads: new product architectures and new productive organizations?
iv) Supply chains under pressure: internationalization and division of labour
v) Industrial policies as a lever of change? American, Asian, and European industries in perspective
vi) Employment relationships: competencies in transition?
vii) IJATM special issue (GERPISA colloquium) and the young author’s prize


Supply chains under pressure: internationalization and division of labour

Theme N°: 

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.

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