Digitalization and smart manufacturing in the automobile industry. Possible labor effects in the South. A systematic review of literature

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2020)


automobile industry, digitalization, emergent economies, industry 4.0, Organizational Change, reorganization of work


In the past decade, we have witnessed how traditional manufacturing relationships have rapidly changed and allowed for new forms of interaction. This research suggests that we are facing a disruption of the conventional markets guided by traditional industries towards the creation of new industries and, consequently, new markets and job requirements. This is particularly notorious when we compare the manufacturing relationships between North and South.
In recent years we have witnessed how traditional manufacturing relationships between North and South are rapidly changing and allowing for new forms of interaction. On the one hand, the industrial restructuring processes suggesting a substantial acquisition of technical capabilities in the South and a restructuring of the global value chain. On the other hand, an important push towards robotization and digitalization.
The implications of these phenomena on the restructuring of the global value chain are still uncertain but of high socio-economic relevance. Attention to the first phenomenon has been brought, among others, by UNCTAD (2012), Jullien and Pardo (2015) and Chaminade, Rabelloti et al. (2015), who highlight the significant participation of emergent economies, in the global industrial value chain, as well as the beginning of FDI, flows from South to North. The second trend is mostly documented in reports and working papers addressing the search for new markets based on the development of technologies that comply with the increasing environmental rules and regulations imposed by the North.
By taking up the example of the automotive industry, this research presents a systematic literature review of these recent developments in the global context. Due to its high levels of globalization and technological requirements, the automotive industry is a good case study to illustrate learning and innovation paradigms between OEMs, their subsidiaries, and domestic parts suppliers with all the different job and organizational changes required by the increasing digitalization requirements. The high levels of employment that the industry creates in both the South and the North reinforce the socio-economic significance of the auto industry.

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