Chapter 2: Regional ‘Worlds’ of Production: Learning and Innovation in the Technology Districts of France, Italy and the USA
Michael Storper A NEW ERA OF COMPETITION There is now widespread agreement that the forms of production organization which characterized the most dynamic industries of the post-war period in the advanced economies, i.e. mass production in the consumer durables sectors and their associated capital goods, are no longer as central to economic growth, change and capital accumulation as they once were. The social science literatures are replete with tales of the restructuring of the Chandlerian–Galbraithian ﬁrm, the spread of programmable technologies, the shortening of product cycles, the deepening of contracting and subcontracting relations, the revival of the role of small and mediumsized units of production, and the emphasis on quality as much as on price in competition (Piore and Sabel, 1984; Becattini, 1987; Sabel, 1989; Best, 1990; Sengenberger and Loveman, 1990; Hirst and Zeitlin, 1992). There is an emerging consensus that the most advanced competitive standard in the evolving system of open global markets is that of continuous technological change (Amendola and Gaﬀard, 1990; Amsden, 1990; Best, 1990). There is also evidence of increasing specialization in world trade patterns as a result of uneven distribution of specialized technical skills and learning (Dosi et al., 1990; Gerstenberger, 1990; Porter, 1990; Guerrieri, 1992). Many of these technologically dynamic, export-oriented sectors are found in localized concentrations within their respective national territories: examples include the high technology zones of the USA, the strong concentration of mechanical engineering in southern Germany, the famous pockets of design-oriented production in northeast-central Italy, or the concentration...
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