Paradigm shift? The Automotive Industry in Transition

Comité d’organisation :

Géry Deffontaines, GERPISA

Tommaso Pardi, CNRS-IDHES, GIS-Gerpisa

During the last three years we have been exploring how the new frontiers of the automotive industry are transforming the way cars are conceived, produced, used and regulated. We have been debating the nature, the pace and the long-term consequences of these transformations; whether they are disruptive or evolutionary; whether they are driven by new or traditional actors. We have highlighted the theoretical and methodological challenges raised by the following kind of phenomena: much of the debated changes within the auto industry currently represent only small and marginal change, yet any of the forces could well grow and change the industry profoundly; the assumption that the knowledge accumulated on the past trajectory of industries and firms may not be pertinent going forward in order to understand what is happening as changes are brought by technologies and firms from outside the automotive industry, notably by digital companies; and the difficulty of working on forecasts and expectations, whose predictability and performativity are by definition debatable and uncertain.

For the 27thinternational colloquium of Gerpisa we propose to address these issues and questions from the perspective of a common empirical and theoretical question: is the automotive industry going through a paradigm shift?

The notion of a paradigm has been used by evolutionary economics to characterise technological change as a localised and collective social process, based on shared cognitive frames, developing along technological trajectories associated with the progressive realization of the innovative opportunities underlying each paradigm. But paradigms have also been associated with shifts in cultural beliefs, as they change expectations, choices, regulations and behaviour.

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