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28 MARCH 2006

Industrial Competitiveness Through Clustering

J?rg Meyer–Stamer 2002 (University of Duisburg, Germany, and Funda??o Empreender, Joinville, Brazil)
In the course of the 1990s, clusters became a target for local and regional initiatives to promote competitiveness and job–creation. What played an important role in putting clusters onto the policy agenda was a 1990 book by management guru Michael Porter, The Competitive Advantage of Nations, which in fact was much more about subnational regions than nations. Porter's argument underlined what other authors had argued before, namely that firms which are operating with close proximity to a set of related firms and supporting institutions are often more competitive than firms which operate in an isolated manner (Piore and Sabel 1984, Schmitz 1989). This is due to both competition and co–operation. Competition at the local level is usually much less abstract, and often involves personified rivalries, thus creating a stronger pressure than the anonymous mechanism of the invisible hand. Co–operation does not necessarily mean formal alliances, even though even competitors have shown an increasing tendency to enter into arrangements such as strategic technology alliances. Co–operation at the local level often involves activities like informal communication between firms along the value chain, or information about innovation being exchanged over a beer or through employees which move from one firm to another. Over time this tends to lead to the evolution of strong business associations.

Porter, Michael E. (1990): The Competitive Advantage of Nations. New York: The Free Press.
Piore, Michael J., & Sabel, Charles F. (1984): The Second Industrial Divide. Possibilities for Prosperity. New York: Basic Books.
Schmitz, Hubert (1989): Flexible Specialisation – A New Paradigm of Small–Scale Industrialisation? Brighton: Institute of Development Studies.

TAGS

clustercompetitive • Competitive Advantage of Nations • CoPfirm • job-creation • management • Meyer-Stamer • Michael Porter • policy • rivalry • strategy
10 SEPTEMBER 2005

Historical Materialism: a critical resources for the de-reification of capitalism

The materialist conception of history "retains its relevance to contemporary social life insofar as it offers critical resources for the de–reification of capitalism and its various forms of appearance. It reminds us that commodification of social life, and especially commodification of labour, are not natural, necessary, universal or absolute; nor, therefore, is the separation of the political from the economic which is entailed in the capitalist wage relation. Historical materialist critiques imply that capitalism's abstraction of politics from the economy and the naturalisation of a civil society of abstract individuals are historical conditions which are open to question and hence potentially to transformation. This transformation would necessarily entail (but not necessarily be limited to) the re–politicisation and democratisation of the economy and of civil society, such that they cease to be pseudo–objective and apparently natural conditions which confront isolated individuals as an ineluctable external "reality". Rather, they would become sites for – and objects of – reflective dialogue and contestation, mutable aspects of a broad process of social self–determination, explicitly political."

(M. Scott Solomon and Mark Rupert, Syracuse University)

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TAGS

abstractionsbusinesscapital accumulationcapitalismcommodificationcontestationdialogueeconomyfirm • historical materialism • Mark Rupert • Michael Scott Solomon • mutableproductionreflective process
25 FEBRUARY 2005

Castells: The Network Society And The Business Project

"The unit of this production process is not the firm, but the business project. The firm continues to be the legal unit of capital accumulation. But since the value of the firm ultimately depends on its valuation in the stock market, the unit of capital accumulation (the firm) itself becomes a node in a global network of financial flows. In this economy, the dominant layer is the global financial market, where all earnings from all activities and countries end up being traded. This global financial market works only partly according to market rules. It is shaped and moved by information turbulences of various origins, processed and transmitted almost instantly by telecommunicated, information systems, in the absence of the institutional regulation of global capital flows."

(Manuel Castells, p.9)

[2]. Castells, M. (2000). Materials For An Exploratory Theory Of The Network Society. London, British Journal of Sociology www.tandf.co.uk/journals.

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