29th GERPISA International Colloquium

Date:  15 June, 2021 – 09:00 – 18 June, 2021 – 17:00

Online

Deadline for sending the proposals:  29 March, 2021 – 23:59

Deadline for submitting the papers:  15 May, 2021 – 23:59

GERPISA’s sixth international programme, on the New Frontiers of the Automobile Industry, considered the transition between the old and new paradigm of the automobile and mobility as a long and complex phenomenon, occurring despite the « disruptive » rhetoric that accompanies it. The electrification of the fleet, the development of the connected and autonomous vehicle, and the rise of shared mobility will take at best more than a decade to assert themselves and to sustainably transform transport and automobile production/sales systems.

Looking at the future implies a reflection on the long-term coexistence of the two paradigms and on the complex interactions between technological, economic, political and social conditions that could advance, delay or even partly reverse the transition between the two. The inherent tensions between the increasing restructuring of a capital-intensive auto industry and the expected demands on labour reorganisation on a global scale further compound the transition process. Within this complex scenario, there is also the substantial uncertainty caused by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, which will undoubtedly have a significant impact on all these developments. 

The new international programme aims to study these transformations, as well as the forms of coexistence between the old and new paradigms, through the prism of digitalisation, which is asserting itself as the main accelerator in the transitions underway. Launching this new programme, the 29th International Colloquium of Gerpisa focuses on “the transformations of the Global Auto Industry: Digitalisation, Ecological Transition and the impact of the COVID-19 Crisis”. 

The 2021 Colloquium will build on our previous research streams, namely the changes occurred in the global auto industry in terms of product architecture, value chains and labour relations, and the wider industry eco-systems, and will continue to investigate key transformations like the electrification, the broader ecological transition, the digitalisation of the sector and the future of work in the industry. In addition, this year’s Colloquium will also aim to analyse whether and to what extent the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated or halted such changes. We thus welcome proposals on policy measures designed to contain the crisis in the industry, and on the social and political impact of the pandemic, with special reference to increasing inequalities and the changing labour scenario. 

This call is organized in three sub-themes of research. 

1.    New product architectures: electrification, digitalisation and the impact of COVID-19Key topics: EVs, AVs, connected cars and their related technologies and innovations; their conception, production and distribution; alternatives technologies (biofuel, NGV, etc.); country strategies (e.g. China, USA); company trajectories (OEMS, global and national suppliers, new entrants etc.); profit strategies and product policies; productive organizations; integral vs modular product architectures; global platforms organization and governance; platform economy and related product-services; COVID-19 and its impact on digital transformation and ecological transition of the industry. 

2.    New value chains architectures and labour relations: digitalisation, globalisation, de-globalisation and the future of workKey topics: the transformation of global value chains; the impact of new technologies on transnational manufacturers; industrial and innovation policies; economic, functional and social upgrading (downgrading); trade policies, FTAs and neo-protectionism; the future of work and the impact of digital technologies on work and employment; working conditions; upskilling – deskilling; training; organizing labour; restructuring; autonomy and control at work; decent work; impact of COVID-19 on global supply chains, employment structures and labour relations; labour responses to the COVID-19 crisis 

3.    New eco-system architectures: transitioning to a ‘green’ industry and embedding the automobile in societal and political contextsKey topics: new mobility models and their implications for the automotive eco-system; new business models for mobility providers; endorsement, acceptance or resistance towards new mobilities by users and workers; the role of old and new actors; public policies and regulations (local, national, and global) and their impact on the industry at the national and global level; work and labour in platform economies; ecological transition and environmental policies; ecological transition and changing mobility patterns. We are also interested in papers that try to combine perspectives on different analytical levels, linking for instance transformations in product architectures with the reconfiguration of existing value chains and the creation of new ones, and the emergence of new eco-system architectures.We welcome both empirical and theoretical studies, but this year particular space will be given to recent and applied works analysing the actual impact of the COVID-19 crisis and related challenges. Along with varying levels of geographic focus, we are interested in studies analysing the many levels of players in the industry: OEMs, global and local suppliers, distributors, retailers and aftermarket providers, new digital entrants, battery makers, transport, energy and service companies, trade unions and ‘new’ categories of workers. Similarly, we are interested in how the the industry is structured and being re-structured, in the light of the current crisis:from global value chains to regional and national industries, with regards to evolving regulatory frameworks and changing labour relations. The effects of possible re-organisations of the industry, from increasing inequalities between competing regions to the re-composition of the employed workforce and its social impact, will be of particular interest. This could include the roles of workers and trade unions in response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the impact on product purchasers and end users. In addition, coverage could focus on the intervention of governments and other public authorities to confront the crisis, including new legislation, and legal, regulatory frameworks, and specific regulations. 

Papers providing recent perspectives on these issues are welcome. In particular, 1) works analysing challenges related to digitalisation processes and the ecological transition of the industry, 2) papers trying to assess how changes in products, value chains, eco-systems, and labour relations have been affected by the COVID crisis.  How has the debate on the “future of automobile industry” and the “future of work” been influenced by the COVID-19 crisis? Have economic, social, technological changes related to the automotive industry been accelerated or halted? To what extent? What will be the ‘new normal’ in the industry, following the COVID-19 crisis?  

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).