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Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis
Chapter 44: The Complexity of Upgrading Industrial Districts: Insights from the Diesel Engine Industry of Ludhiana (India)
Meenu Tewari* 1. Introduction This chapter is motivated by the puzzle of differential performance among small firms in related sectors located in the same institutional setting and geographical region. Why do some sectors in seemingly vibrant industrial districts (IDs) appear to perform poorly even as other related industries in the same region do well? Firms in IDs are assumed to derive their resilience from an ability to draw on common resources, tacit knowledge and specialized services generated by competition and cooperation among interlinked firms in spatially concentrated and closely-related local industries (Sabel 1994, 2005b). Why then do some colocated and linked industries prosper while others lag? This contribution draws on evidence from the diesel engine sector of Punjab (India) to address this question. Since the 1980s the diesel engine industry in Punjab has been languishing relative to other light engineering and metal-based industries in the region, such as bicycles, sewing machines, machine tools and auto-components that have consistently done well in terms of output, employment and exports. Why are related industries in a well-performing ID not able to share equally in its dynamism? What are the blocks that inhibit and limit adaptation and resilience in the lagging industries? The chapter draws on field work I conducted in the diesel engine industry in the North Indian industrial belt of Ludhiana-Phagwara districts in the State of Punjab (along with comparative material from earlier field work I had conducted in the other metal-based industries in Ludhiana, such as sewing machines, bicycles and basic...
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