Trainers by design : a case study of inter-firm learning, institution building and local governance in western Mexico
Author(s)Lowe, Nichola J
Case study of inter-firm learning, institution building and local governance in western Mexico
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Studies of international economic development often feature the competitive gains from inter-firm cooperation. By cooperating, firms within a region can draw on their collective resources and experience to test out new production processes and techniques; share the risks associated with system-wide upgrades and improvements; and identify and transition to more secure niche markets. What many development analysts and practitioners often forget, however, is that local economic actors do not always realize these benefits themselves, nor in unison. In recent times, sophisticated manufacturers have been known instead to employ less cooperative survival strategies, including disassociating themselves from their existing manufacturing base and especially from local colleagues with less training and experience. What then leads firms to work together and cooperate? This is the central question of this dissertation and case study of apparel manufacturing in Guadalajara, Mexico. Since the mid-1990s, a growing number of sophisticated, medium sized apparel makers in the region have been working with smaller sized, less experienced or barebones subcontractors and in the process, have established dynamic upgrading and learning alliances. Together these firms are having to "unlearn" an entrenched relational pattern based on strict production hierarchies and centralized forms of control; establish a new set of rules and routines that are more suitable for open learning and joint decision making; and finally, develop a shared "identity" around which to build out and legitimize their collective activities and experience.(cont.) In contrast to existing studies of craft manufacturing, success here does not come from established cultural norms or individual initiative and self-interest. Rather, it is a case in which three actors-from the state government, industry association and university extension center-have come together in an unexpected alliance to create the institutional structure and governance framework needed to support, guide and motivate this particular form of social learning and collective exchange. In describing the coordinated efforts of these three institutional actors, this case study not only provides planning lessons for other regions not "born with the sprit to cooperate," but more importantly offers a set of policy guidelines for development practitioners wishing to keep skilled and well-connected manufacturers active and invested in their own communities.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2003.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 224-233).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.