Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Göteborg Papers in Economic History,
University of Gothenburg, Department of Economic History

No 5: Verkstadsindustri i globaliseringens tidevarv. En studie av SKF och Volvo 1970-2000

Oskar Broberg ()
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Oskar Broberg: Department of Economic History, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: Box 720, SE 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden

Abstract: This working paper explores the impact of the globalization process 1970-2000 on two manufacturing industries in the Gothenburg area –SKF and Volvo. Three aspects of the process are highlighted: the development of new Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the increased mobility of capital, and the increased importance of knowledge in manufacturing industry. The history of the two companies is analyzed from the early 1970s to the turn of the century, using literature and interviews. Firstly, the paper explores the organizational development of the two companies. The study shows how SKF and Volvo during these years transformed from being organized as nationally oriented hierarchies to become nodes in global networks. Secondly, a number of specific themes are explored, such as ownership, branding, R&D, and outsourcing. The international ownership increased and the production is now coordinated on a global scale. The main conclusion of this working paper is that SKF and Volvo are representatives of an emerging informational economy. The flexibility generated by new ICT and more liquid financial markets has proven to promote economic growth, while at the same time generate social conflicts as the labour security decreases.

Keywords: Economic History; Business History; SKF; Volvo; Globalization; Outsourcing

JEL-codes: L22; L62; N64; N84

38 pages, September 28, 2006

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