Social Innovations, Institutional Change and Economic Performance
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Social Innovations, Institutional Change and Economic Performance

Making Sense of Structural Adjustment Processes in Industrial Sectors, Regions and Societies

Edited by Timo J. Hämäläinen and Risto Heiskala

This book examines the nature of social innovation processes which determine the economic and social performance of nations, regions, industrial sectors and organizations.
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Chapter 6: Structural Adjustments and Conflicting Recipes in the US Auto Industry

J.-C. Spender


6. Structural adjustments and conflicting recipes in the US auto industry J.-C. Spender INTRODUCTION This volume is dedicated to probing the interplay of national policy and economic performance. Renewed interest is following what the editors term the Third Industrial Revolution – which encompasses the violent global social, economic and technological disturbances precipitated by ongoing developments in information technology and international trade. Our intention is to press beyond naive notions of technological determinism or technologically framed economic restructuring, and develop policy insights that might be useful to governments. National economic policy is too complex and multifaceted to be captured in ‘sound bite’ variations of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. The editors neatly express the basic proposition: that, while technological innovation is clearly a significant ‘driver’ of economic performance, its impact is far from determining, history shows that the economic returns from technological breakthroughs are often harvested by others than those who make them. Other ‘drivers’ complicate, mediate or must be integrated before the nation’s economic engines seem to work to best advantage. In this chapter we examine some aspects of the complex relationship between the US auto industry and the national or local policies that might be thought to shape that industry’s competitiveness or conduct. I do not intend a comprehensive review of what has already been said about this industry, one of the largest and most researched in the world. If anything, this chapter offers some observations on how this relationship might be thought...

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