A.J. Jacobs

2017 Visiting Research Fellow

Fellows Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research
  • Current position 2017 Visiting Research Fellow
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East Carolina University/ Shifting Locations in the European Motor Vehicle Industry / From March to June 2017

A.J. Jacobs is an Associate Professor at East Carolina University, Department of Sociology. His primary area of expertise is in Urban, Auto Industry and Port Development.

For the past 4 years A.J. has been studying the shift of automotive industry foreign direct investment from Western Europe to Central & Eastern Europe (CEE), and its impacts on urban and regional growth in the CEE. More recently, he began to examine the countervailing impacts occurring in cities in Western Europe. Well aware that Belgium has lost more than 50 percent of its vehicle production over the past ten years, he has become particularly interested in how this disinvestment has impacted urban areas in the country which have hosted automotive plants (economically, socially, and spatially). During his fellowship in Brussels he would gain a much more in-depth view of the related situation in urban Belgium.  

A.J.'s project in Brussels is called Shifting Locations in the European Motor Vehicle Industry. During his fellowship he will examine historical and current development trends in four cities and urban regions that have hosted foreign automotive assembly plants: Genk, Ghent, Antwerp and Vorst.

His methods will include:

1) Research questions grounded in urban political-economy theory;
2) A historical review of company, factory, and place, and their historical links; this will begin with background on the city’s growth over time, and the factory’s development over time.
3) Census data collection, including population, housing, employment, occupational, labor force, and income trends over the time in the urban areas under study; two major foci will be post-World War II and especially since the year 2001 auto industry peak of 1.18 million vehicles built in Belgium.
4) Data collection of production statistics, factory employment (direct and indirect), and local tax revenues in these cities and urban regions over time;
5) Visits to cities and factory sites, where I will take pictures of areas, record spatial information of the surrounding neighborhoods; and
6) Interviews with local and regional government officials, industry experts, scholars, and company representatives (if possible).

 The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the research units Cosmopolis and MAST.