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Industrial district or subordinated production: A case study of small-scale carpentry industries in Accra, Ghana

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This article aims at gaining greater insight into the functioning of small-scale industries in an African context. The findings are based on predominately qualitative fieldwork conducted on small-scale carpentry industries in Accra, Ghana. A special concern is whether the small-scale carpenters are capable of acquiring the technological capabilities conducive to a positive industrial development. Two opposing frameworks, one neo-Marxist and one centred on the conceptualisation of industrial districts, are used to discern the nature of locally embedded production and supply linkages, and whether these are conducive to the technological capabilities needed for innovative growth. Despite facing similar structural constraints there are a few small-scale enterprises that remove themselves from the characteristics of informal production by making the greatest use of the services entailed in the carpentry production network. These linkages, however, are still not extensive enough, nor advanced enough, to bring about the technological innovations associated with a true industrial district. The benefits gained through interlinked production are thus better understood as a means of securing domestic resilience, rather than international competitiveness. Furthermore, an explanation for the limitations of these linkages must be sought beyond the meso-level analysis typical of an industrial district approach.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The University of Arizona, Tucson, USA 2: University of Oslo, Norway

Publication date: 01 December 2001

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