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A challenge to Marshallian orthodoxy on industrial clustering

A challenge to Marshallian orthodoxy on industrial clustering Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the antecedents (the medieval guild) of modern day industrial clustering. The paper challenges the notion that work of Alfred Marshall provides the intellectual underpinning of cluster thinking. Design/methodology/approach – The source material uses archival research on medieval guilds and historical texts. In tracing the development of forms of co‐operative association this paper employs the technique of genealogical spanning. The prism of forms of co‐operative association is used to examine the rise and fall of the medieval guild. Findings – Medieval guilds have been largely ignored by modern proponents of cluster theory and Italianate industrial districts. Guild activity in technological invention and innovation, in skills transfer and knowledge (both codified and tacit) had many of the same positive attributes that are found in neo‐Marshallian industrial districts. The long history of cooperative behaviour in geographically concentrated firms in industrial districts had its genesis in the medieval guild. Research limitations/implications – The paper suggests that collaboration (in craft guilds) and clusters (cooperation and relationships) have been a dominant paradigm since the Middle Ages; a viewpoint which is commonly ignored by the dominant US‐centric view of individualism, competition and arms lengths relationships in business. Cooperation and relationships have attracted significant scholarly attention and most recently the studies in the cluster literature have tended to favour the social and knowledge‐based approach. This phenomenon suggests that the future social, political and economic dynamics in Europe will remain firmly rooted in the creation of areas of regional specialization, as has been the case in the past. Originality/value – This paper contributes to our understanding of the embeddedness of cooperation by comparing the characteristics of the medieval guild with the characteristics of modern day (Porterian clusters). Cooperation rather than competition is the dominant paradigm of industrial activity. The competitive divide between employers and employees was an aberration of the Industrial Revolution and promoted by political economists as a means of facilitating the mobility of labour by diffusion. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Management History Emerald Publishing

A challenge to Marshallian orthodoxy on industrial clustering

Journal of Management History , Volume 17 (4): 20 – Sep 27, 2011

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1751-1348
DOI
10.1108/17511341111164445
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the antecedents (the medieval guild) of modern day industrial clustering. The paper challenges the notion that work of Alfred Marshall provides the intellectual underpinning of cluster thinking. Design/methodology/approach – The source material uses archival research on medieval guilds and historical texts. In tracing the development of forms of co‐operative association this paper employs the technique of genealogical spanning. The prism of forms of co‐operative association is used to examine the rise and fall of the medieval guild. Findings – Medieval guilds have been largely ignored by modern proponents of cluster theory and Italianate industrial districts. Guild activity in technological invention and innovation, in skills transfer and knowledge (both codified and tacit) had many of the same positive attributes that are found in neo‐Marshallian industrial districts. The long history of cooperative behaviour in geographically concentrated firms in industrial districts had its genesis in the medieval guild. Research limitations/implications – The paper suggests that collaboration (in craft guilds) and clusters (cooperation and relationships) have been a dominant paradigm since the Middle Ages; a viewpoint which is commonly ignored by the dominant US‐centric view of individualism, competition and arms lengths relationships in business. Cooperation and relationships have attracted significant scholarly attention and most recently the studies in the cluster literature have tended to favour the social and knowledge‐based approach. This phenomenon suggests that the future social, political and economic dynamics in Europe will remain firmly rooted in the creation of areas of regional specialization, as has been the case in the past. Originality/value – This paper contributes to our understanding of the embeddedness of cooperation by comparing the characteristics of the medieval guild with the characteristics of modern day (Porterian clusters). Cooperation rather than competition is the dominant paradigm of industrial activity. The competitive divide between employers and employees was an aberration of the Industrial Revolution and promoted by political economists as a means of facilitating the mobility of labour by diffusion.

Journal

Journal of Management HistoryEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 27, 2011

Keywords: Medieval guilds; Labour specialization; Cluster analysis

References