As part of my training within the PRIMO network, I completed a secondment with PRIMO’s private partner Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) from December 2015-February 2016. The study I conducted during this time for JLR looks at regional trade agreements and how these might affect the business strategies of globally operating businesses like JLR. Due to my dissertation topic, which focuses on trade and investment negotiations between the EU and China, I was familiar with the academic literature on trade regimes and had interviewed many policy-makers in order to understand the policy-making processes involved in negotiating trade agreements. To understand and learn about the considerations of and affects on a globally operating business was a great addition.
During the project I was mainly based in Brussels, working closely with JLR’s government affairs department. In Brussels I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the car industry, business associations, and policy-makers involved in the negotiations of trade agreements. In January, JLR invited us to their headquarters in the UK to meet with different departments and learn more about how the business operates. We thus met with representatives from a variety of business areas, from regulatory and homologation experts over business expansion to economists. Finally, we had the opportunity to present the results of our research to JLR managers. The meetings were tremendously helpful to understand how JLR as a business operates, what information the business actually needs and how it must be presented in order to be understandable and useful– to be sure, very different than in academic settings. We were also invited to tour one of the factory sites. Even though this unfortunately did not include driving one of the new sports cars, we were able watch the whole manufacturing process, which was quite fascinating.
As this was my first experience working with a globally operating business, I was able to gain valuable insights for my professional future. Of course, I learned a lot about the automotive industry in general and JLR in particular. In addition, it was great to see robots building cars, and to learn how and in what ways research skills can be useful for a business, and to understand the difference between how scholars in International Relations discuss trade regimes in contrast to how these trade regimes impact companies in practice.