International Colloquium 2012 - Call for papers

20th International Colloquium of Gerpisa

Mercredi 30 Mai 2012, 11:00 CEST - Vendredi 1 Juin 2012, 20:00 CEST

Jagiellonian University
Institute of Geography and Spatial Management
Po polsku 30-387 Cracow, ul. Gronostajowa 7, Poland

Comité d'organisation
Date limite pour l'envoi des propositions: 
8 Mar 2012 - 23:59
Date limite pour la soumission des papiers: 
15 Avr 2012 - 23:59

The current restructuring of the global automotive industry is being driven by extremely rapid changes in the global geography of related production, marketing and (increasingly) design activities. The changes have had variable effects at different stages of the value chain; for different companies; and in different countries or regions worldwide.
Fundamentally, they all involve interlinked processes corresponding to the structuring of new automotive industries that are more or less autonomous in comparison with their predecessors – as well as restructuring actions that affect the older automotive industries and are uneven both in terms of their form and magnitude. As part of the new GERPISA International Research programme that is currently being developed and to prepare the opening of GERPISA’s 20th International Conference, we would like to invite social science researchers with an interest in the automotive industry to reflect upon this dual structuring/restructuring process.
More specifically, we are calling for empirical and/or conceptual studies focusing on the automotive industry’s new global geopolitical order and organised into seven main themes:

  1. New kinds of mobility, new markets, new public policies;
  2. Managing innovation, technological change and new business models
  3. Manufacturer trajectories and strategies;
  4. Supplier trajectories and strategies;
  5. Emergence processes in the new automotive industries;
  6. Restructuring processes affecting the European, American and Japanese automotive industries;
  7. A new international division of labour and changes in employment relationships.


Each of these 7 themes refers to major transformations in the automobile industry and markets. The key question for researchers and actors is to evaluate the scope of these changes and the capability of the different actors to adapt to/or to master them. It calls for a renewed attention to the historical precedents that have marked the last 100 years of the life of this industry. Indeed, the comparison of major episodes of its emergence and transformation with what is happening today should provide new insights and perspectives on the on-going revolution. For this reason, on each theme, the communications of historians are highly welcome.
They might focus on:
  • the choice of the thermic vehicle at the dawn of the 20th century,
  • the transformations of the industry linked to the contestation of the American supremacy by Europe in the automobile after the war,
  • the development of the Japanese or the Korean industry,
  • the transformations of the employment relationships linked to the development of the “peripheral industries” as the Spanish or Portuguese ones in Europe or the Mexican one in North America.




Old and new kinds of mobility, transformation of the markets, and redefinition of public policies

Theme N°: 

An earlier GERPISA International Research programme entitled “Sustainable development and the automobile industry” demonstrated that sustainability issues comprise a leading vector of change for automotive markets, technologies and value chains. It also revealed that questions pertaining to the sustainable development of the automobile product are just as meaningful in emerging spaces as they are in the older developed countries. This makes it essential that issues revolving around driving systems or new forms of access (which can be more or less limited and/or shared) be fully integrated into any examination of the new automotive landscapes’ progressive structuring.

These new forms of access to mobility lead not only to the experimentation of new systems linked or not to the electrical vehicle, but also to more incremental market, retailing and automobile service evolutions. The transformations of this downstream side of the value chain in the old automobile countries and its structuration in the emerging spaces require for this reason a particular attention. The forms of coexistence and joint management of old and new types of mobility by the traditional actors of the distribution and automobile services, and the scenarios of transition that emerge at this level of analysis are indeed crucial both for the firms and for public policies makers.

Towards this end, this first section of our call for communications invites all researchers interested in current experiments promoting a transition towards greater sustainability within this industry and market, and involving all different forms of mobility. Whether the focus is on public policy, manufacturers’ innovation strategies and/or other value chain issues, regions/spaces where mobility innovation is taking place or users and their consumption practices – and whether emerging countries or more mature ones are involved - the studies presented here will be fully explored during the sessions that the GERPISA International Conference will dedicate to questions of this nature.

Managing innovation, technological change and new business models

Theme N°: 

The magnitude of the changes putting pressure on different automotive system actors to adapt their driving systems and acclimatize to radically new market environments have had a destabilising effect on organisations. These actors are having to open up to other partners coming from industries that are not part of their customary field of influence. They are also having to develop much more proactive relationships with public policymakers. Their R&D management and innovation organisation have been destabilised by these changes, which have led to the emergence within the automotive sector of "open innovation" experiments and practices worthy of full attention from social science researchers.

Studies focused on these issues within the automotive industry (and even in other sectors) merit further exploration. The same applies to research into new forms of the international organisation of design activities associated with the rising power of Indian, Brazilian, Russian or Chinese design centres.

Manufacturer trajectories and strategies

Theme N°: 

To various degrees, the world’s leading manufacturers have all been affected by the search for a sustainable compromise between the requirement that they restructure their activity portfolios in the more mature markets and their development of a major emerging country presence. Understanding how each company is managing this phase of their internationalisation strategy and how it resembles or differs from manufacturers’ earlier phases is the general specification for contributions made under this chapter.

Understandably, particular attention will be paid to the productive and commercial ramifications of manufacturers’ emerging country strategies. The same applies to examinations of the design activities that are starting to be located in spaces that used to be considered peripheral, or dedicated product policies that certain manufacturers are now developing. Lastly, although studies of large global carmakers from Europe, the United States, Japan or Korea will continue to play an important role in this analysis, studies of emerging market manufacturers that are independent or have ties to the aforementioned group are also welcomed (i.e. Chana, Tata, FAW, Geely, Chery, Donfeng, Beijing Automotive and BYD).

Supplier trajectories and strategies

Theme N°: 

Supplier industries play a fundamental role in structuring and restructuring the automotive industry. Their rise in the emerging countries constitutes one of the basic conditions enabling today’s emergence process and catalyses currently observed polarisation phenomena. This explains why authorities' "local contents" requirements have become one of the main levers used to drive local actors’ emergence. Symmetrically, assembly activities’ repatriation to some of the larger automotive countries has endangered (and on some occasions even led to the disappearance of) many supplier sites and companies.

While large global suppliers have accelerated their internationalisation trajectories and placed their competency at the disposal of both traditional prime contractors and the new manufacturers whose emergence they are trying to facilitate, the opposite movement can also be observed, involving the acquisition of European or American supplier companies by Indian or Chinese investors. The question then becomes which industrial and/or technological strategies are at work here; what role national and local public policy plays in these movements; and what kind of future landscape is being created through these changes. Clearly these are key questions both at an operational level but also in terms of the research perspective that the conference is trying to adopt. We would welcome relevant studies contributing to better understanding, including historical ones.

The emergence of new automotive industries

Theme N°: 

Previous GERPISA conference studies and communications have already dealt with production growth and, to a lesser extent, the rise of the Brazilian, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Russian, Thai and East European markets. Accumulating material in these crucial areas remains a priority but it is essential that we try in 2012 to improve our apprehension of the emergence processes at work here and the mechanisms that drive them.

Towards this end and without neglecting the need for empirical studies, we will be paying special attention to communications that offer an analytical and social comparison perspective. The goal here is to situate with respect one another past and present development issues taking place in different world regions. A second goal is to determine if (and to what extent) European, Japanese and Korean precedents can elucidate the current stage of global automotive history.

Thus, questions pertaining to the link between local supply, demand and design - and the forms that they assume depending on the period in question, the country, the political, economic, industrial, commercial and fiscal policy or investors’ origins - should clearly be analysed or least presented in proposed studies.

Restructuring processes affecting the European, American and Japanese automotive industries

Theme N°: 

The 2008-2009 crisis revealed a startling gap between the different dynamics at work in the leading developed country markets and automotive industries and the same in China, Brazil or India. In turn, this led to more or less violent restructuring processes that have generally caused state authorities to intervene on what has at times been a massive scale. A comparative study of these restructuring processes well beyond the year 2009 could teach us a lot about this period by outlining (at least partially) the global hierarchy that is in the process of emerging.

Towards this end, there would be particular interest in studies of the public policies that are being implemented based on varying degrees of cooperation with industrial actors and aimed at encouraging such changes and/or adapting them more or less explicitly to the search for a sustainable mode of development for this industry and for mobility in general. Studies should be comparative in nature and cover the localisation and/or re-allocation choices that affect carmakers or suppliers’ production and design activities. Towards this end, special attention should be paid to the role of regional organisations, the opportunities they offer and the constraints and incentives that they may structure, whether in Asia, Europe and North America.

A new international division of labor and changes in employment relationships

Theme N°: 

Transformations of the global geopolitics of the automotive sector, relating specifically to the restructuring and structuring processes affecting the older and new production spaces that are relevant to such changes, have led to an in-depth modification of employment relationships within this field and even beyond. In this context, the competition that exists between transnational companies in terms of production sites and regulation spaces constitutes a powerful lever for reorganising employment relationships as management sees fit. It remains that the establishment of international framework agreements, codes of conduct and global and/or European work councils also opens up new transnational spaces where social partners can negotiate and harmonise regulations.

Given the renewed heterogeneity of national and transnational regulation spaces and the corporate wage labour nexus systems generated by such transformations, these developments deserve to be studied on different levels. From a comparative perspective as such, we welcome any studies covering such topics.

Special attention will be paid to studies elucidating on-going changes in the BRICs countries. The rapid rise of these markets and the greater range of competencies required by local industries here seem to imply increasing tension on their labour markets and more pressure on companies to recruit, train and retain their workforce. Questions remain, however, as to the realities in this situation and how such developments might play out at an employment relationship level.

With regards to restructuring processes in countries characterised by high labour costs, we would be particularly interested in studies highlighting linkages between the development of zero carbon automobiles and the impact on the structure of branch competencies, employment and international division of labour.

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