Putting Culture in its Place in Political Economy
Chapter 9: Competitiveness clusters, Wal-Martization and the (re)making of corporate social responsibilities
Competitiveness discourses and practices on cluster-building are a pervasive part of the neoliberal accumulation strategy, especially in developing countries (see Chapter 8). Some strategy firms and international organizations are engaged in recontextualizing the Harvard–Porterian brand with a view to linking clusters with the global markets. This chapter illustrates how cluster-building and the liberalization of trade in services in the global political economy mediate the rise of global retail chains such as Wal-Mart, and how Wal-Mart negotiates its corporate social responsibilities when challenged by consumer activism. This chapter has five sections. Section one elaborates the roles of strategy firms (e.g. Enright, Scott and Associates Ltd) and (inter)national institutions in visibilizing regional clusters as production, agricultural or service spaces that are (or should be) opened for global sourcing. This development on the cluster front was conjuncturally articulated to the liberalization of services (e.g. retail and banking) under the GATS agreement and to advances in information technology and logistical infrastructure.
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