31st International Colloquium of Gerpisa

Sunday 26 February 2023, 23:59 CET - Sunday 12 March 2023, 23:59 CET

Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Organisation committee
Deadline for sending the proposals: 
Sun, 03/12/2023 - 23:59
Deadline for submitting the papers: 
Fri, 05/05/2023 - 23:59

EXTENDED DEADLINE - 12th of March 2023

The 2023 Gerpisa International Colloquium will take place in Brussels, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and is co-organised with the METICES. It will be a full in-person conference for presenters with the possibility of virtual attendance for the audience. The conference will have a strong focus on the evolution of the regulatory frameworks with several events co-organised with European institutions.

The hardening of existing environmental regulations and the introduction of new trade and technical regulations for cars and batteries have been indeed playing a central role in the massive transformation that the global automotive industry is undergoing, and in particular in the accelerated transition towards electrification. 

During the last couple of years, even before the official European ban of internal combustion engines for 2035, or the introduction of similar policies in the US aiming at 50% market share for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) by 2035, almost all OEMs have announced that they will stop producing Internal Combustion Engines Vehicles (ICEVs) as early as 2030 for some of them, and not later than 2040 for all the others. In 2021 the investments in electrified transport have exploded, reaching $ 271 billion and in 2022 there were already 300 new gigafactories in the pipeline to 2032, with more than half of them owned by OEMs.   

Our 2023 conference will be focused on the concept of sustainability and on the environmental, economic, social and political implications of the electrification process. The key, provocative question will thus be: how (environmentally, economically, politically, socially) sustainable is this transition of the automotive industry toward decarbonized mobility?

How sustainable is it for the workers of the automotive sector, where massive restructuring will take place with the accelerated phasing out of ICEs? For the core Western automotive countries that see their hegemonic position in the global automotive value chains contested by the growing influence of China on EV value chains and raw materials? For peripheral and semi-peripheral countries that so far appear excluded from this transition and relegated to the legacy production of ICEVs, the low-cost assembly of EV batteries for Western markets, and/or the extraction of the raw materials required for their production?  For the traditional automotive players, which have to design their products around more costly EV powertrains, while facing increasing pressure from new players in EVs production, battery production and digital mobility services? For consumers and car users, who see the cost of acquiring and using a car rapidly increasing, to the point that many of them could be excluded from a personal mobility mode based on electrified vehicles? For carbon neutrality as the main reason for this transition, since EVs require very significant amounts of energy to be produced and used, and the recent energy crisis highlights how much energy production still relies on fossil sources even in places like Europe where investments in renewable energies have been important? And, finally, for electrification itself, as this accelerated transition requires huge quantities of relatively rare raw materials, whose availability at reasonable costs to keep electrification going is not guaranteed in the years to come?

At the same time, all these and many other questions and concerns that have been raised by different stake-holders, experts, government agencies and lobbies have started to be addressed by a whole series of new tentative “answers”: new industrial policies to support the transition, to regionalise electric vehicles value chains, to protect automotive workers and create new jobs; new political concepts, such as the notion of “just transition” promoted by trade unions to support workers and communities threatened by electrification; new regulations to guarantee the social and environmental sustainability of the EVs value chains via CO2 footprints and due diligence norms and standards; circular economy business models and regulations to reduce waste and fight planned obsolescence; new battery technologies to reduce the reliance on rare and expensive materials, increase energy density, and further reduce cost per kwH;  new dedicated EV platforms to optimise the production of electric vehicles and reduce production costs; new manufacturing technologies (I4.0, digitalisation) to reduce the production costs of both vehicles and batteries; and new business models based on service rather than ownership – mobility and/or battery as a service, autonomous vehicles – to reduce the number of vehicles and batteries needed for the mobility of persons and goods as well as its costs. 

We welcome papers that look at the concerns, issues, challenges raised by electrification, and more generally by the current transition towards more sustainable automotive industries and mobilities, as well as papers that explore the “answers” to these issues and problems.  We also welcome papers that analyse the interplay between electrification and the rise of new mobility services as a complementary way of implementing decarbonisation.

We welcome papers from academics, and all the members of our international network, but also from all actors that are involved in the public debate, such as trade unions, environmental NGOs, employers associations, government agencies, as well as auto manufacturers and their suppliers.

We welcome papers from all social sciences, both focusing on the current transition, but also providing historical accounts of previous transitions where the notion of sustainability of the automotive industry has been raised, as well as historical perspectives on the origins and causes of the current transition and related transformations.

The call is organised in three streams that focus on (1) labour issues; (2) on social and regulatory contexts; and (3) on companies, products, technologies and value chains. 

To sumbit a proposal you need to log in with your user account (or create a new one) and click on the submit link under the theme you want to submit for.

A selection of the best papers presented during the colloquium, including the winner of the young author’s prize (see below) will be included in a special issue of the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management (IJATM).

Guidelines for paper submission

To submit a proposal, please click the link below the chosen theme. Proposals should range between 500 and 1,000 words. They should present the outline of the research question (purpose), the methodology (design), the main results (findings) and their significance (practical and theoretical implications).

Instructions on how to submit final articles will be sent by email following the proposal acceptance. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis, and those submitted at the 26/02/2023 deadline will be accepted by the 05/03/2022.

Final articles should range between 5,000-7,000 words (excluding figures, tables and references) in order to be considered for the IJATM special issue. High-quality articles that exceed 7,000 words will be also considered on a case-by-case basis.

Guidelines for panel submission

To submit a panel follow the guidelines for paper submission above for each communication, and send a panel proposal to gerpisa@gerpisa.org. Panels will be accepted on rolling basis and their specific calls/presentations added below.

 IJATM special issue

The International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management (IJATM) published by Inderscience publishes a special issue each year selected from papers presented during the GERPISA yearly colloquium. One or two papers from young authors will also be published in this special issue. An evaluation committee, composed of members of the GERPISA International Steering Committee, will assess the papers during the colloquium (young authors and others) and invite those chosen to submit to the IJATM Special Issue. After the decision of the GERPISA’s steering committee, the selected papers will be refereed through a double-blind process prior to final acceptance.

The criteria of the assessment are the relevance of the topic, the quality of the presentation (for works in progress), the strength of the results, the quality of the methodological work, and the review of the literature. Work across the social sciences (including history, management, economics, sociology, geography, and political science) dealing with the automobile industry is welcome.

Gerpisa Young Author Prize

The Young Author’s Prize of GERPISA, consisting of the publication of the winning paper in a special issue of IJATM and a €1,500 award, recognizes the work of young researchers on topics related to the automobile industry. Our goal is to encourage scholars to focus on topics related to the automobile industry early in their career.

Requirements to submit a paper proposal for the young author’s prize:

  1. Masters and Ph.D. students, post-docs and junior faculty are eligible. Applicants should be under age 37. Papers co-authored with a senior researcher will be assessed only for masters and doctoral students. We exclude those at the associate professor level or above, and senior researchers.)
  2. Paper based on the analysis (whether theoretical, methodological, or empirical) of the automobile industry (topics have to cover one of the five themes of the colloquium);
  3. Presentation of the paper by the young author during the 31st international colloquium online.
  4. Submission online (specifying that the authors wish to be considered for the prize). They should also email basic information (name, date of birth, nationality, status, university/research affiliation, topic, and abstract) to Giuseppe Calabrese (giuseppe.giulio.calabrese@ircres.cnr.it), and Tommaso Pardi (tommaso.pardi@ens-cachan.frbefore 12 March 2023 (extended deadline), for the proposal and 5th May 2023, for the final paper.

Paper Preparation:

  • An original article would normally consist of 5000-7000 words (excluding figures, tables and references).
  • All articles must be written in UK English. If English is not your first language, please ask an English-speaking colleague to proofread your article.
  • Submissions may be formatted in single or double spacing, preferably in Times New Roman size 12 font.

The paper should include the following:

  • Title: as short as possible, with no abbreviations or acronyms.
  • Abstract: approximately 100 words, maximum 150.
  • Keywords: approximately 10-15 words or phrases. Keywords are important for online searching;
  • Address*: position, department, name of institution, email address for each author.
  • Biographical notes*: approximately 100 words per author.
  • Text: no more than 7000 words (excluding figures, tables and references).
  • Tables and figures: please put in the text where tables and figures are positioned.
  • References: IJATM papers are recommended.
  • Notes: the less the better.
  • Acknowledgment: in case you have any. 

Challenges for Labour

Theme N°: 

The challenges for automotive workers and their organisations in the transition to the electric vehicle are multifaceted. There is not only the restructuring of vehicle production and engine assembly sites, with the reductions in labour requirements that this implies, but also the conversion of workers' skills and qualifications, or more generally the change in working and employment conditions. This stream also aims to interrogate the way in which trade unions negotiate and deal with electrification. How do they manage to negotiate or impose a 'just transition'? What alternative plans do they develop in the face of those of the automotive firms? What mobilisations and conflicts does electrification provoke? Electrification is presented as a guarantee for maintaining automotive employment in countries that have experienced a decline in their workforce. This stream also aims to study what electrification implies in terms of investments in new battery and vehicle production sites, and the emergence of a workforce along the battery value chain.

Social & Regulatory Context

Theme N°: 

Electrification is driven by regulations and state policies: without CO2 regulations OEMs do not increase the sales of EVs; without subsidies for consumers there is no market for EVs; and without ambitious industrial policies there is no battery industry to make EVs. Papers in this stream could analyse these policies and regulations and how they transform the automotive industry towards decarbonised mobility, but also how they raise new challenges and issues in terms of social disruptions, uneven development and contradictory outcomes. They could explore the processes that shape the emergence and implementation of these policies and regulations, such as the role of lobbies, of different types of expert knowledge, and the changes in political coalitions. The could investigate the concrete outcomes of these policies and regulations on CO2 emissions, transport and mobility patterns, market structures, competition between companies and countries, trade and value chains. Of particular interest will be contributions on the topic of “just transition” and how the potential negative consequences of fast electrification on labour, on communities and territories threatened by deindustrialisation, and on different social groups are taken into account by these policies and regulations.

Public policies and regulations also play a central role in promoting new mobility services that can be part of the process of electrification. We welcome papers that analyse the development of Mobility as a Service (ride-hailing, ridesharing, carsharing, bikesharing, scooter-sharing) and the role played by cities and regions in shaping the transition from ownership to usership.

New Technologies and the Evolution of the Value Chain

Theme N°: 

Proposals submitted under this theme will explore how the transition to electrification and the quest for a more sustainable auto industry is reshaping international production and the nodes of the global auto value chain. Papers in this stream could investigate the rise of emerging auto players and national industries, as well as their industrial strategies to grab new competitive niches linked to the production of EVs. They could focus on strategies to integrate into the existing global auto chain, or to build new value chains at regional or local levels. They could also analyse the interplay between electrification and the rise of new mobility services (ridesharing, carsharing) and the emergence of new business models in the context of MaaS (Mobility as a Service) and BaaS (Battery as a Service) as well as the evolving role of automated driving technologies in these sweeping transformations.
Particular interest will be given to papers investigating structures and players within new battery industries and the battery value chain: who are the emerging actors? What segments are they trying to win and what strategies are they implementing to do so? What tasks are they performing and how are they positioned within the global governance of existing chains?
In this regard, papers exploring cases in the Global South, and questions related to the political economy of raw materials extraction will be particularly welcome. Connections with issues covered under theme 1 -i.e. new divisions of labour and labour restructuring in the global auto chain, linked to electrification, will also be considered.

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