Year

1992

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Department of Science and Technology Studies

Abstract

Through the eighties post-Fordist theories have emerged as an influential account of capitalist restructuring. This thesis critically reviews the two predominant post- Fordist accounts of industrial organisation - the flexible specialisation thesis and Allen Scott's theory of the new industrial spaces. Drawing heavily on the Third Italy, Silicon Valley and other 'industrial spaces' or 'industrial districts', both these post- Fordist accounts argues that the era of flexible specialisation or flexible accumulation is fostering the creation of vertically disintegrated and localised industrial complexes. I develop a number of theoretical, political and empirical criticisms of these accounts. In place of these localist approaches to capitalist restructuring, I suggest that there is a need to examine industrial restructuring at the global, as well as the local level, and investigate the global-local nexus. This thesis also investigates the Australian inter-firm networking debate. There has been a lot of interest in inter-firm collaboration and networking in Australian industry policy circles. Inter-firm networking is viewed as a means to improve the competitive position of Australian manufacturing industry. Three main theoretical approaches have shaped this debate in Australia - the flexible specialisation thesis, transaction-cost economics, and Michael Porter's work on clusters. The Third Italy model has also been an important influence. The flexible specialisation thesis and the Third Italy model have been particularly influential among sections of the trade union movement.

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