Resilience in Local Systems and Emerging Issues in Industrial District, Cluster and Global Value Chain Analysis

Session Organizers:
Valentina De Marchi , Joonkoo Lee and Khalid Nadvi
Joonkoo Lee
Friday, 3 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.2.01 (Tower One)
Globalization, and more recently the on-going global economic crisis, calls for alternative ways to understand the local-global nexus. At one level we observe opportunities for a new division of labour at the global level, resulting in differential competitive advantages for countries in the Global North and the Global South, and the rise of emerging economies. At another level we see the continuing significance of specific advantages related to local production systems, both at regional or sub-regional level, in the forms of industrial districts and cluster-based agglomerations. A key interest in academic and policy research has been on the interrelationships between local production systems and global value chains (GVCs). Indeed, the literature suggests that industrial districts (IDs) and clusters have played a fundamental role in the economic success achieved in several developed and developing countries. But they are also undergoing profound changes. At the same time, evidence suggests that more and more production and export is becoming concentrated within various kinds of global, coordinated networks (GVCs) headed by large multinationals. While in some cases local clusters engaged in GVCs have flourished, others have found reduced autonomy and capacity to upgrade. This opens up for discussion the role of local production in the age of global opportunities and the changing nature of global-local linkages.

Interestingly, empirical evidence suggests that such local systems do not react in the same way to external shocks. There is an increasing consensus that, other than ‘internal’ features to the cluster and the industry, ‘external’ ones are playing a key role, namely the way in which clusters or cluster firms have been able to engage in GVCs. What is missing, however, is a comprehensive understanding of the transformations taking place within clusters, IDs and other local systems, their relationships with GVCs, and the effects of global-local linkages on various development outcomes, such as economic and social upgrading, corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability. The proposed panel aims at tackling these research gaps, using comparative narratives that consider empirical settings both the Global South and the developed world. We adopt a broad definition of the ‘local’ dimension, including experiences from IDs, clusters, regions and nations.

We propose a collection of eight papers organized around two consecutive panels, which are structured thematically within the framework of emerging trends in global-local linkages. This first panel aims at understanding the reasons behind the resilience or decline of local systems, considering the ways that local productive systems and actors engage with GVCs, the nature of these relationships and their implications for local capability formation. The second panel focuses on how a specific challenge: to address social and environmental concerns within the global-local nexus, including the agenda of corporate social responsibility, and the implications that arise from this upgrading around sustainability. Together these two panels offer new conceptual, empirical and comparative insights for a key area of scholarship on GVCs, namely the changing dynamics of global-local relationships and their implications for new intersections between industrial districts, clusters and GVCs.

Describing the Change: Evolutionary Trajectories of Industrial Districts in Global Value Chains
Valentina De Marchi, University of Padova; Gary Gereffi, Duke University; Roberto Grandinetti, University of Padova
Global Value Chains and Manufacturing: Which Role for Industrial Districts?
Marco Bettiol, University of Padova; Maria Chiarvesio, University of Udine; Eleonora Di Maria, University of Padova
See more of: O: Global Value Chains