Technological practices in the European auto industry: exploring cases from Belgium, Germany and Portugal

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Int. J. of Automotive Technology and Management, Volume 2, Issue 1, p.84-100 (2002)



The relationship between work organisation and technological practices in the auto industry is analysed in this article. The concept of ''technological practice'' in this sector is used to describe the specific ways of embedding information and communication technology applications into the organisational forms and cultural patterns. This concept was developed as a theoretical and methodological approach within the Sowing project (TSER, DG XII), which included, as components of that practice, shop floor cooperation up to the regionally based networks of companies and supporting institutions. The authors studied different sectors in the automotive firms of different European countries (Germany, Belgium and Portugal) shopfloor and production lines, design and management and the local inter-relationships. The focus was on finding out, if, within the same sector (and the same product industry) the same technological practice existed, although the cases were found in several European countries. In the following article some evidence of the different alternatives in terms of technological practices for the same sector is presented. Much of the literature tries to disseminate an idea of a single (and optimum) organisational model for the same type of product. And here, even with the same type of technology, and product (medium-high range), one can find different models, cultures and ways of organising the industrial structure (firms, regional institutions, R&D centres) in the auto industry.

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