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Varieties of just transitions in the European car industry

Hancke, Robert ORCID: 0000-0002-3334-231X and Mathei, Laurenz (2024) Varieties of just transitions in the European car industry. Contemporary Social Science, 19 (1-3). 135 - 153. ISSN 2158-2041

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Identification Number: 10.1080/21582041.2024.2317389


This article examines the responses and strategies developed by business, unions, and governments to the electric turn in the industry in Germany and France, Europe’s main car-producing countries. We concentrate on the role of history and institutions in the determination of adjustment paths. Since institutions reflect specific histories, the electric transition in the industry can take on different forms in different countries. In both countries, governments play a supportive role, leading in France, and following in Germany. The strong works councils in German car companies are reluctant to engage in a rapid transition that would devalue the assets of the workforce and endanger past investments in internal combustion-related technology. Trade unions, in contrast, who organise the workforce in the wider industry, are in favour of a faster transition as it will secure future employment. The French EV industry, in contrast, is now a booming sector, after several decades of deep restructuring with massive employment losses. Its key short-term problem is to train enough workers to staff the rapidly expanding car battery industry. Lacking a deeply rooted training system like the German one, the industry has a relatively free hand in selecting and preparing its future workforce.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s)
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
JEL classification: L - Industrial Organization > L6 - Industry Studies: Manufacturing > L62 - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q5 - Environmental Economics > Q55 - Technological Innovation
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2024 15:24
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2024 16:45

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