Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

From survival activities to industrial strategies: Local systems of inter-firm cooperation in Peru

Jose Ignacio Tavara, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation analyzes the conditions that explain the dynamism of socio-territorial systems of firms and examines how these systems can foster local industrialization and reduce urban poverty in Peru. The theoretical argument builds upon the concepts of external economies, industrial districts and the social embeddedness of economic action, providing an alternative interpretation of the informal sector. It draws on field research and case studies conducted in Peru between August 1991 and August 1992. The findings support the view that the dynamism of small-scale manufacturing results from the development of collective entrepreneurial capabilities and new forms of cooperation and competition. Cooperation takes various forms such as subcontracting, joint marketing, and the sharing of inputs, tools and information. When firms compete on product design and the search for new markets rather than by lowering wages, there is scope for self-sustained expansion. In the first case study (El Porvenir, Trujillo) inter-firm cooperation was based upon ethnic homogeneity, kinship bonds and social norms of equity and reciprocity. Learning experiences within two larger shoe factories stimulated the organization of spin-off firms and networks of complementary specialized producers. These networks subsequently outcompeted the larger factories, expanded their share of the national market and are now exporting part of their output to neighboring countries. In the second case (Villa El Salvador, Lima) the state, foreign donor agencies and producers' associations played a more prominent role. The construction of an industrial park and service centers was sought to generate scale economies in the provision of productive services and entrepreneurial functions that were beyond the reach of individual producers. The main challenges were associated with the definition of property rights and the generation of stable institutional structures to operate these centers as self-sustained organizations. The study suggests that specialized support should be directed to those clusters of firms with higher growth potential and stronger linkages with the local economy. The constitution of quasi-public organizations can strengthen local leadership and nurture the formation of political entrepreneurs. The dissertation underscores the dynamism of socially embedded enterprises and institutions as the foundation for democracy and development.

Subject Area

Business costs|Economic history|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Tavara, Jose Ignacio, "From survival activities to industrial strategies: Local systems of inter-firm cooperation in Peru" (1993). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9316720.