HomeThe French aeronautical industries and the world: international cooperation and internationalisation strategies from the Liberation to the 1980s

HomeThe French aeronautical industries and the world: international cooperation and internationalisation strategies from the Liberation to the 1980s

The French aeronautical industries and the world: international cooperation and internationalisation strategies from the Liberation to the 1980s

Les industries aéronautiques françaises et le monde : coopérations internationales et stratégies d’internationalisation de la Libération aux années 1980

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Published on Monday, November 28, 2022


This study day proposes to address several themes linked together by the relations that the French aeronautical industries have established and maintained with various countries and foreign aeronautical firms in a context of recovery, restructuring and development of this French industry. It is intended to highlight international industrial cooperation, its creation and implementation processes as well as the actors involved and their roles in these original partnerships. The aim of this study session is also to reveal the evolution of these forms of collective production and the specialisation of the actors involved during the period under consideration. Finally, it tends to show that far from being limited to industrial cooperation, the global ambition of French aeronautical firms also developed without foreign aid thanks to internationalisation strategies that evolved during the said period.



During the inter-war period, the design, production and marketing of an airframe or an aircraft engine were largely carried out by one and the same company, but this vision of the production process was overturned in the 1950s. Encouraged by political elites or supranational institutions, international industrial cooperation is now seen as a key element in the success of the European aeronautics industry. The most obvious example is of course the foundation and successful development of the EADS consortium, now Airbus. But the genesis of the international cooperation of French companies is not the production of the A300B. However, this industrial success is the fruit of a French experience that began in the 1950s with various collective aeronautical programmes, initially military, then civilian. From the end of the 1950s to the 1980s, the internationalisation and generalisation of inter-firm cooperation became the norm in Europe and no longer the exception. Looking back at the genesis of this phenomenon of reversal of production practices, where joint design and production became the rule, allows us to better understand the problems to which this type of organisation had to respond. But the study of this genesis also makes it possible to better understand the impact of these first cooperations on the prosperity of EADS. In particular, it explains the organisational and doctrinal metamorphoses that these cooperations engendered. All of this tends to show how European industries and states, starting from specific collective production experiences, acquired skills and a cooperative entrepreneurial culture capable of creating a European industrial giant, building a common market and conquering world markets.

Thus, to penetrate international markets, French companies applied internationalisation strategies. From the 1950s onwards, they tried to break out of the national market (generally with success) to overcome its restrictions and shortcomings and achieve economies of scale. These internationalisation strategies, initially employed by national firms, were applied by the consortia in which France participated. The comparative study of these different strategies highlights the convergences and divergences in the trajectories and international ambitions of French and European companies, explains them and assesses their respective degree of success.

Topic Proposals

This study day can therefore be structured around several lines of thought (not exhaustive):

1. Actors and practices in the construction of sustainable relationships between international companies

The construction of a cooperation between international companies could be the subject of many difficulties that the heads of companies and state actors had to face: enumeration of the specifications, appointment of the technical project manager, sharing of financial risks or of the workload plan, etc. What influence did state and military decision-makers have on the design of these cooperations? What place was given to companies in the negotiations? How did these practices evolve over the decades and why? What relational practices were used? What impact did the geographical dispersion of decision-making and production locations have on the design and management of these cooperations?

2. International industrial cooperation: its aims and developments

The birth of international cooperation was always preceded by a purpose that took shape in the serial production of an aircraft with defined technical and financial characteristics. The military or civilian purposes of the aircraft involved various actors whose motivations and ambitions were diverse and sometimes divergent. The staffs were looking for performance while the State agents were looking after the budgetary balance, especially during the Fifth Republic. The same logic applied to civilian aircraft, whose clients favoured a balance between price and technical capabilities. 

Thus, could an aircraft be efficient and inexpensive? Wasn't this originally the purpose of aeronautical cooperation: to meet a need to share costs and investments? Or was it the solution to increase the industrial or technological capacities that a company or a State could not provide on its own, due to a lack of resources or skills? How did cooperation evolve in the face of the shifting financial, budgetary and political ambitions of the last century? What role did the advent of the market logic play in the multiplication of international cooperation? 

3. The end of a temporary cooperation or the beginning of international exchanges? 

The end of an industrial cooperation programme raises the question of its legacy. What remained of these programmes apart from the products delivered and the benefits gained? Did the companies involved achieve a growth in their technical competence or industrial potential? Or were the production tools put in place for a specific programme temporary, for one-time use? Did the end of a programme simply mean a return to national production practices, or did it leave behind a form of sociability and cooperation between companies that had worked and proved their worth together? Did these co-operations encourage international exchanges, whether technological or financial? 

4. Internationalisation and market development: what strategies, what developments? 

The contributions will look at the internationalisation strategies of French and European companies, for their own production or in cooperation. The diversity of internationalisation paths offered a wide range of more or less effective strategies that evolved over time, depending on the degree of development and means of the company, its links with foreign companies, political decisions and incentives, or the standardisation or complementarity of production and global regulations. 

What were the different strategies used by the aeronautical industries and how were they conceived and implemented? Why did internationalisation strategies become increasingly necessary for companies? What positions did the state and its agents adopt in the face of this phenomenon? 

How to submit

Please send your proposals (500 words maximum) to Mr IRACHILO Erwan at the following address: e.irachilo@univ-pau.fr

before 31 January 2022.

PhD students and post-docs are encouraged to send their proposals.


  • DORNEL Laurent (UPPA)
  • JALABERT Laurent (UPPA, director of ITEM laboratory)

Scientific Committee

  • KECHIDI Med (Toulouse 2 Jean Jaurès)
  • JALABERT Laurent (UPPA)
  • FERNANDEZ Alexandre (Bordeaux-Montaigne)
  • BOUNEAU Christophe (Bordeaux-Montaigne)

Practical Information

The study day will be held on Tuesday 30 May 2023 at the University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour.

Indicative bibliography

Burigana D., Deloge P., "Introduction. Les coopérations aéronautiques en Europe dans les années 1950-1980 : une opportunité pour relire l'histoire de la construction européenne ? 29, n° 4, December 2010.

Burigana D., " L'accord SNECMA/ General Electric et les origines de CFM International. Succès " global " franco-... ou euro-américain ", Historie, Économie et Société, vol. 29, n° 4, December 2010.

Chadeau E., Muller Feuga Ph., Marcland de Montremy M., Abraham C., Airbus, un succès industriel européen: industrie française et coopération européenne, 1965-1972, Paris, Éditions Rive droite, 1995.

De Syon G., ""No Sir, It's an American Aircraft": Selling the A300 to the US Public in the 1970s ", Nacelles [On line], Naissance et affirmation du groupe Airbus (années 1960-années 1980), Dossier thématique, Airbus, aux origines..., updated on : 16/02/2022, URL : https://revues.univ-tlse2.fr:443/pum/nacelles/index.php?id=1576.

Frigant V., Kechidi M., Talbot D., Les territoires de l'aéronautique: EADS, entre mondialisation et ancrage (The territories of aeronautics: EADS, between globalisation and anchorage), Paris, Harmattan, Collection Géographies en liberté, n°38, 2006.

Jalabert G., Juiliani J.-M., " Airbus ou l'Europe industrielle ", Cahiers d'histoire immédiate, n°27, printemps 2005.

Kechidi M., Talbot D., " Les mutations de l'industrie aéronautique civile française : concentration, externalisation et firme-pivot ", Entreprises et histoire, vol. 73, no 4, 2013.

Muller P., Airbus: l'ambition européenne: logique d'Etat, logique de marché, Paris, L'Harmattan, 1989.

Ravix J. T., Les relations interentreprises dans l'industrie aéronautique et spatiale, Paris, La Documentation française, 2000.

Seiffert M.-D., Kechidi M. (dir.), L'aéronautique mondiale: acteurs et stratégies, Paris, MA Éditions-ESKA, coll. Brèves histoires, 2016.

Szymkiewicz K., "La coopération technologique internationale. Les transferts de technologie", Revue d'études comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 26, n° 2, 1995.

Warlouzet L., "Airbus, modèle ou exception pour les ambitions industrielles européennes, 1967-1984", Nacelles [On line], Naissance et affirmation du groupe Airbus (années 1960-années 1980), Dossier thématique, Airbus, aux origines..., updated on : 24/01/2022, URL : https://revues.univ-tlse2.fr:443/pum/nacelles/index.php?id=1486.


  • Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, avenue du Doyen Poplawski
    Pau, France (64000)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Tuesday, January 31, 2023


  • histoire industrielle, histoire économique, coopération industrielle, aéronautique, industrie aéronautique, Airbus, EADS, politiques publics, Europe, construction européenne


  • Erwan Irachilo
    courriel : e [dot] irachilo [at] univ-pau [dot] fr

Information source

  • Erwan Irachilo
    courriel : e [dot] irachilo [at] univ-pau [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The French aeronautical industries and the world: international cooperation and internationalisation strategies from the Liberation to the 1980s », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, November 28, 2022, https://doi.org/10.58079/1a1m

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