New value chains architectures and labour relations: digitalisation, globalisation, de-globalisation and the future of work

Theme N°: 
2

Value chains appear to be under the firm grip of OEMs. Yet, the electrification and digitalization of vehicles are creating opportunities for new actors, both in the supply chain and many new OEMs. It is already clear that battery makers, electricity producers and distributors, mobility providers, internet companies and new car manufacturers specializing in EVs and connected/autonomous cars will all take away some of the control held by OEMs and global suppliers on value chains.  But we should also consider the possibility for new types of value chains to be built around these new actors, as well as the implications for labour relations and employment patterns. Will power be redistributed along the value chains? Who will gain and who will lose from such shifting balances and productive innovations? Will the current COVID-19 crisis induce further globalization or de-globalization of existing value chains?
In the case of autonomous vehicles, many believe that those who will control the software will become the primary players, in the same way in which Microsoft commodified personal computers in the 1990s.  Another interesting case is New Energy Vehicles (NEVs) in China, where the domestic internet giants see themselves as providers of Industry 4.0 technologies, connecting consumers and service providers with NEVs producers. In the case of EVs, battery producers at one end of the value chain, and energy providers and distributors at the other end, could also reshape the value chain of new mobility system around the storage, use, and management of energy. Together with new industrial players and corporate relations, such changes might bring about a different employment composition and new labour relations along the chain and within existing production nodes.
 
We welcome papers that analyse such changes, and in particular how the 2020 COVID-19 crisis potentially impacted the value chains linked to digitalization/electrification and papers that explore the emergence of new actors and/or changing employment scenarios. 
How are OEMs and global suppliers integrating new actors into their global value chains? Do new actors such as Tesla and Byd, CATL, Panasonic, Waymo, Alibaba, and Uber challenge their dominant positions? Were the ongoing transformations and such emerging actors favoured or hampered by the COVID-19 crisis?  
Did digital technologies represent a tool to overcome the crisis or gain from it? How? Who gained and who lost? ?  Did these new technologies provide opportunities to leapfrog existing players, or did they contribute to reinforce the hegemony of incumbents based primarily in the Global North? Did the introduction of new technologies and the entry of new players affect employment composition and labour relations, and how? How was the transition to 4.0 technologies affected by the COVID-19 crisis? Did the current lean production paradigm in productive organisations and employment relationships change? What was the impact of the pandemic on employment and work conditions in the global automotive industry/at local level? How did industrial and trade unions deal with these transformations in different countries and at different levels of the value chain? 
 

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