Authors: Martin Krzywdzinski
Addresses: WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany
Abstract: Current analyses of technological change take it for granted that we are living in a time of rapidly increasing automation. But is the thesis of accelerating automation correct? This study develops a historical assessment of the development of process technologies in the automotive sector from the early 1990s until 2018. The focus is on three central automobile manufacturing countries: Germany, Japan and the USA. The two main questions are: 1) What approaches to automation are being pursued in the automotive industry? 2) How do automation approaches of German, Japanese and US companies differ? The major goal of the analysis is to test the hypothesis of an accelerated automation (and potentially disruptive technological change). The study is based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative analysis consists of 439 articles on automation from automotive industry print outlets. The study also uses the figures provided by the International Federation of Robotics on the development of robot installations.
Keywords: technological change; automation; digitalisation; industry 4.0; digital factory; robots; production systems; automotive industry; Germany; Japan; USA.
International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, 2021 Vol.21 No.3, pp.180 - 199
Received: 26 Aug 2020
Accepted: 09 Dec 2020
Published online: 09 Jul 2021 *