Espacios. Vol. 35 (Nº 3) Año 2014. Pág. 10
Industrial agglomerations: a local governance case study of the APL Clothing from South western Paraná
Aglomerações industriais: Um estudo de caso de governança local do APL do Vestuário do Sul ocidental Paraná
Recibido: 18/12/13 • Aprobado: 02/02/14
In last decades of 20th century, there is a restructuring of global production systemconcerned in a literature suggestion about some main factors responsible for these changes, including globalization, technological advances and the collapse of the fordist/taylorist production. In addition, this new production system based on flexible production techniques, with less vertical industries, opened new perspectives for spatial concentration of small and medium enterprises, resulting directly in the valorization of territorial attributes (Piore and Sabel, 1984; Becattini, 1991; Benko, 1999; Amaral Filho, 2001; Lastres, Arroio; Lemos, 2003; Cassiolato; Lastres, 2003).
In this sense, becomes explicit the linking of industrial agglomerations in discussions about the process of local or regional development. Boisier (2001) confirm that this endogenous development movement emphasizes the importance of local productive forces, from an intense process of articulation of local actors, adopting a perspective of a territory as social construction.
Additionally, it is important to note that this highly competitive scenario requires associative and innovative actions, with the use of collective synergies generated by the process of industrial agglomeration, which provide new opportunities and competitive advantages, especially for small businesses (Casarotto Filho; Pires, 1998; Cassiolato; Lastres, 2000).
Confirming this discussion, Suzigan (2006) explain that geographical and sectorial clusters enterprises are explicitly linked to public policies for regional development. Furthermore, the literature presents several studies and research that involve local or regional development from the formation and organization of small and medium networks enterprises, which are treated in this article as local productive arrangements (APLs).
In this context, joint efforts and development of cooperative practices by some agents involved in an APL, imply the need for institutional mechanisms aimed at the articulation and coordination of joint actions. Therefore, localgovernance has a great importance for productive arrangement, which should act as a catalyst for the establishment of common interests and the construction of collective synergies, in a process guided by the local leadership.
Given the above, there is no doubt about the importance attributed to the acting waysanalysis implemented by local governance for a Local Productive Arrangement. In order to make progress in these discussions, the main objective for the present research is to analyze the role of local governance in the management of the APLClothing of Southwestern Paraná.
To assist the proposed discussions in this research, the article presents a structure in five chapters, including this introduction. The second chapter details the theoretical framework, involving discussions about APLs, local governance, and a brief background on the productive arrangement selected as case study, followed by the methodological aspects. The fourth chapter presents results and discussions, with the analysis and interpretation of data. The last chapter refers to the final considerations of the article.
This chapter presents the information needed for a theoretical framework discussions proposed in this article. For this purpose, it is organized in three sections, including an initial discussion on the industrial agglomerations, emphasizing the key features and concepts of local productive arrangements. The article relatesan important component to this scenario, showing some discussions on local governance. The chapter ends with a brief background on the productive arrangement selected for analysis in the case study.
2.1. APLs: concepts and main features
Since the restructuring of world production system in last decades of 20th century, a development of the spatial concentration of small and medium enterprises organized in a territory has been observed, which explains the emphasis assigned to industrial settlements for local or regional development process.
According to AmaralFilho (2001) this development process by means of the valorization of territorial assets is known as endogenization. Then, there were several theoretical strands to explain this phenomenon, starting thecalled Theories of Endogenous Economic Development 4, which include: Neo-Schumpeterian Theory, Italian Industrial Districts, New Economic Geography Theory, Theory of Harvard about School Clusters (AmaralFilho, 2001; Cavalcante, 2008; Costa, 2010).
In addition, the different theoretical thinking and classic examples found in the literature, such as the Italian Industrial Districts and the high-tech complex in Silicon Valley in the United States, triggered numerous attempts at replication of this phenomenon in many regions. As a result of these international experiences, the literature points to a proliferation of terminology, including: local productive clusters, industrial districts, tecnopolos, milieuxinnovateurs, local productive systems, local production systems, clusters, local productive arrangements.
It is important to stand out that the term Local Productive Arrangement (APL) emerged in the late 1990, from the discussions held within the Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil (Costa, 2010). Later, it gives the guides public policy related to this Brazilian scenario, implying in its use discussions proposed in this article.
According with these discussions, some recognized authors such Farah Jr. (2002), explains that not every group of enterprises, as for example, the mere existence of an industrial district, can be considered a cluster. Corroborating this reflection, Almodovar and Teixeira (2009) support that all clusterscorrespond to a network of enterprises, however, the opposite is not always true, because the cluster has a social critical mass. In general, these arrangements or groups are characterized by a process of articulation and interaction of the different local actors or agents present in that territory.
Figure 1.Collective Efficiency Formation.
The illustration presented in figure 1 indicates that collective efficiency is derived as much from externalities 5 (external local economies), as by joint actions (cooperative practices) carried out by participants of the productive arrangement. Besides, it is evidenced that the shared search for the solution of problems and needs, generates cooperative practices that strengthen the growth conditions of the agents involved in this process of collective efficiency (Schmitz, 1997; Schmitz andNadvi, 1999).
Complementing these discussions, literature presents many concepts to the phenomenon of local productive clusters. In summary, a Local Productive Arrangement (APL) can be regarded as: an agglomeration of small and medium enterprises sector organized on a territorial basis, which look for collective efficiency and competitiveness gains, generated by external factors as cooperative practices between the various economic, social and political agents which constitute this productive environment (Mariniet. al.,2012, p. 5).
From this concept, important features to an APL are revealed, among them, can be highlighted: the formation of a heterogeneous network of economic, social and political agents; the existence of links between the agents; the development of cooperative practices (joint actions) between the agents.
Taking into account these topics, it is necessary to realize that these features are linked strongly to territorial issues, with social capital directly impacting on conditions for the articulation and the establishment of social relationships among agents that it is to say, essential condition to cooperative practices of productive arrangement.Additionally, the existence of a heterogeneous network formed by economic, social and political agents implies a group of institutions with different objectives and representations in this agglomerative process, demanding above all, a mechanism of organization and coordination of this arrangement. In this sense, the next section concerns the discussions about local governance in APLs.
2.2. Local Governance in APLs
As a continuation of theoretical framework for the proposed discussions in this article, this section presents an important component to the setting of local productive arrangements, from an overview of the main features and the role of local governance.
Previous discussions have revealed that the linkages and cooperative practices among agents are differentials for obtaining competitive advantages of agglomerative process. So, "to the extension of those actions let to be individualized and become more collective, then it is necessary to establish a coordination process for the different actions in order to ensure the training of synergies" (Farah Jr; Brito; Brito, 2006, p. 3).
In this direction, AmaralFilho (2011) points out that the set of agents participating in the productive arrangement should find institutional and coordination mechanisms for actions, carried out by the establishment of local governance. Then, the governance corresponds to the establishment of democratic practices through the intervention and participation of different actors in the decision-making process (Cassiolatoand Szapiro, 2003).
Confirming these theoretical regards, Campos and Callefi (2009, p. 91) support that "the structure of governance is the set of actors involved in the activity and for their coordination actions, especially referring to the identification of joint problems and regarding the proposition of solutions and strategies".Additionally, it is important to observe that participating agents of APL (enterprises, educational institutions, P&D centers, associations, government agencies, financial institutions, among others) need to find harmony on the common objectives for the planning and actions of APL. In that sense, the ways of local governance management have a direct relation with the mechanisms of trust and cooperation, thus influencing cooperative practices developed by agents (Suzigan; Garcia; Furtado, 2003; Villela and Pinto, 2009).
Taking into account the theoretical framework explained above, the role of local governance must be characterized by a democratic process, guided by the local leadership and the empowerment 6 of the agents which participate in APL. In addition, it reinforces the need for the establishment of a joint agenda for meetings, creation of a strategic plan and a plan of actions guided by common interests of these different agents.
Complementing these discussions, it is possible to find within literature the relationship of some problems that might obstruct productive arrangement governance, including:
Analyzing this context, there is a strong consensus about the importance of local governance in the management of a Local Productive Arrangement where should also participate strategically in existing potential conflicts between the agents (Schmitz andNadvi, 1999). Furthermore, local governance should promote an enabling environment for joint actions, based on the principles of trust and cooperation. However, there is no single recipe of governance for the Local Productive Arrangements (Farah Jr., 2005).
2.3. APL Clothing from Southwestern Paraná
This section gives a brief background on the productive arrangement selected as an object study for this research, presenting geographic informationand the main features.The APL Clothing fromSouthwesternParaná is located in the Southwest region of Paraná Sstate, as is highlighted in gray in the map in figure 2. This region is made up of 42 municipalities, with an area of 16 975,515 km2, bordering to the South with the State of Santa Catarina, and to the West with the city of Misiones, belonging to the Republic of Argentina (SINVESPAR, 2006). Additionally, it is a region formed by small municipalities, with a total population of approximately 585 696 inhabitants, especially as urban centers, the regional municipalities of PatoBranco with 72 260 inhabitants and Francisco Beltrão with 78,804 inhabitants (IBGE, 2011).
Figure 2.Location of the Southwestern ParanáRegion.
Respect to the historical formation of clothing activity in the Southwestern of Paraná, the first initiatives refer to the 1970s, from tailors that produced suits, men's pants and shirts (SINVESPAR, 2006; Migliorini, 2007). The first factories appeared in the middle of 1970, in Ampere (Krindges), Francisco Beltrão (Raffer Clothing) and Santo AntôniodoSudoeste (Blazius & Blazius).
The industry organization occurred in the early of 1990, from the creation of the Union of Garment Industries of SouthwesternParaná (SINVESPAR) in June of1992 (Migliorini, 2007). In 2005, the Union and other partners institutionalized the APL, which was recognized in the same year by the APL Paraná Network and in 2008 at the federal level by the Permanent Working Group (GTP-APL).
In General, this arrangement has predominantly productive enterprises in the menswear line, jeans and fad, formed by "58% micro-enterprises, 39% small and medium enterprises, and, 3% large enterprises, using as a criterion the gross operating revenue of the enterprises". (SINVESPAR, 2006, p.7).
Related to participants, the APL features a wide institutional and regional organization, including many assets, such as: higher education institutions; Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises (SEBRAE); Association for Technological and Industrial Development of Southwestern Paraná (SUDOTEC); Industries Federation of Paraná (FIEP); Union of Garment Industries of Southwestern Paraná (SINVESPAR); National Service of Industrial Learning (SENAI); Regional Bank for the Development of South Extreme (BRDE); Municipal Administrations; Trade Associations; Regional Development Agency of Southwest Paraná (IPARDES, 2006; SINVESPAR, 2006).
At the present time, the local governance of the APL occurs by means of a Management Group, with the participation of institutional actors in periodic meetings. In this direction, it should be noted that "the Management Group is the entity that brings together all the institutions and people interested in promoting the development of the APLClothingfromSouthwestern Paraná, becoming a forum of debate, manifestation and decision policies" (SINVESPAR, 2006, p. 17).
During a scientific research, the using of a methodological approach is one of the most important topics, including the use of onemethod and procedures based on a scientific treatment (Marconi andLakatos, 2006). In this direction, purposes established for this research allow its classification as an explanatory research.
According to technical procedures and the method adopted, the research was based on the case study method. For Yin (2010), the case study is typically used to understand complex social phenomena, from an empirical research study of a contemporary phenomenon in your own context.Even on this question for the case study method, Severino (2007) argues that it is necessary to select a significant and representative case. After analyzing some criteria, the APL Clothing from SouthwesternParaná, was selected, considering it has an institutional and regional organization, as it was presented before (section 2.3); APL is recognized by the Ministry of National Integration and for APL Paraná Network; besides, it is included in PROMESO 7 priority APls list.
Following the methodological discussions, collection and interpretation of data research involve a quantitative and qualitative approach that concern a combination of quantitative and qualitative procedures to deal with the problem in question. In that sense, data collection was based on primary sources, using the technique of direct documentation, by means of field research. A structural questionnaire was applied in interviews with the participating of agents from the APL selected. It is important to point out that this APL has a regional scope, and thus the field research included agents of twelve municipalities of the region, respectively: Ampere, Leatherhead, two neighbors, Flor da Serra do Sul, Francisco Beltrão, Hose, Nova Esperança do Sudoeste, Nova Prata do Iguaçu, PatoBranco, Salto do Lontra, Santa Izabel do Oeste, Santo Antônio do Sudoeste.
The interviews took place in the period between March 01 until May 8, 2012, for a total of 60 participants, including: President of APL (representing local governance); Thirty-three enterprises of APL (representing 34% of the total number of participating enterprises of local productive arrangement); Twelve municipal secretaries (representing the Municipal Secretariat of Industry and Commerce, or the Municipal Secretariat of Economic Development, or even, the Municipal Secretariat of Planning); Fourteen agents (SENAI/SESIPatoBranco; SENAI/SESI Francisco Beltrão; SEBRAE- Regional PatoBranco;Regional Development Agency -ADR Southwestern; State University of West of Paraná –UNIOESTE Faculty ofPatoBranco-FADEP; Coordination of Trade Associations in the Region-CACISPAR; Union of Garment Industries in Southwestern Paraná-Francisco Beltrão headquarters and six local boards of the gament).
When data collection phase was carried out, information was prepared to the next step of analytical processing phase. In that way, research that use the case study method, usually employ statistical techniques for the treatment of the data (Yin, 2010). In this direction, has been chosen a grouping, coding and tabulation of answers from electronic spreadsheet type software.
Based on methodological research topics, and from the main objective established before, this chapter presents the results of the analytical phase. For the systematization of indicators related to local governance of APL, data was groupedby means of a methodological orientation guided by three main topics: management features, interaction channel, vision of the future and the market.Additionally, data collection instruments were specific to each category of agents, considering the scope and context of the respective issue. As a result some questions were answered only by some participants of field research.
Initially, the theoretical framework demonstrates the importance of role played by the local governance in the articulation and coordination of developed actions by the agents that participate in APL. Besides, local governance should find instruments and mechanisms to direct local synergies in the pursuit of collective efficiency (Schmitz, 1997; Suzigan; Garcia; Furtado, 2003; Cassiolato; Lastres, 2003; Campos andCaleffi, 2009).
In the analysis of the first topic, management featuresof APL, the figure 3 demonstrates that most of the agents of the APL Clothing fromSouthwestern Paraná considered "high" or "very high" the leadership exercised by the local governance of APL. Thus, this data reveals the governance capacity to intervene in any conflict.
Figure 3.Leadership exercised by the local governance of APL.
Other important element in the management features analysis refers to the criteria adopted by the local governance in decision-making regarding the actions of productive arrangement, which represents conditions and referrals to the development of democratic practices at APL.The analysis about perceptions of agents about decision-making in APL is presented in table 1, where the majority of respondents believe that the governance uses democratic practices to its management. It is worth mentioning that for agents, the "10-the decision is discussed widely" presented the smallest index (42.9%), however, some agents justified this choice stating that the APL has many members, and usually participation is lower in the final decision.
Table 1.Agentsperceptions about their criteria for decision-making in APL.
For completing these discussions about democratic practices, it is necessary to observe that the influence and domination of leading enterprisesobstruct the development of a productive arrangement (Suzigan; Garcia; Furtado, 2003). Then,the research had the mission to identify if exists any differential treatment for some enterprises, so it concern if the local governance grants privileges to the domination of small groups. This question was directed to businessman of APL, and 72,7% of the respondents said they never realized this kind of privileged treatment at APL. However, 27,.3% indicated the existence of these practices, but are not common.
According to this theme, the literature suggests that a Local Productive Arrangement needs a collective planning for its actions and its preparation involve the greatest possible number of agents. On this consideration, the local governance of the APLClothing from Southwestern Paraná stated that there is a plan of actions, which was built by the agents which form this APL. Furthermore, the research had to find if this practice was confirmed by agents which are linked to the productive arrangement. Summarizing, around 75% of respondents said they already participate in the planning for this APL. The data also revealed a minor involvement of representatives of the municipal public power, because 25% never participated, and 50% attended a few times. Another interesting point was identified related with the participation of support agents, because 42% of respondents said they always participate in the plans.
To end this question, should be observed that the participation of businessmen from APL in planning can be considered discrete, because only 36,4% say they participate often or always. In addition, 27,3% of businessmen requested said they never took part. This is a preoccupation, because a compromising with actions depends on greater participation in all its phases, including planning. Related to the capacity of local governance to meet the demands of participating enterprises of APL, the request revealed that almost half of businessmen (51,5%) considered this condition as average. For 36,4% of them, the governance of the APL has high capacity to meet the demands of their businesses. Besides, it is important to explain that the compilation of these data showed that a lot of businessmen fromAPL (63,6%) have a high expectation as to meet the demands from their enterprises by local governance of APL Clothing fromSouthwesternParaná.
Following the discussions on the survey results, is heading to the second topic of analysis, related to some features of the interaction between the agents of the APL and local governance.The interview with the president of APL, representing governance, revealed that productive arrangement performs some internal meetings, involving only members belonging to direction’sstaff (administrative structure of local governance). However, also occur with the presence of all participants of APL, which are carried out in accordance with the existing demands. Corroborating this information, it is interesting that in all answers, interviewers mentioned that APL conducts meetings, providing opportunities for the participation of their agents.
In that sense, questioning focused on local governance by sharing information on APL decisions taken at these meetings, including proceeding and other documents. The local governance of the APL said that its purpose focused on finding and sharing these decisions. By the other hand, according with results presented in figure 4, rest respondents were questioned about the receiving of this information.
Figure 4.Sharing information about the APL decisions.
Analyzing this figure, it is observed that even the local governance stating share decisions with the agents of the APL, this does not occur evenly with all participating categories, featuring heterogeneity as the proximity to some agents, especially with municipal representatives. In addition, explicit is greater interaction with businessmen of APL, as 81,8% said they always or often receive this information of local governance and only a 25% correspond to representatives from municipal public power, and 42,9% to support agents. About these discussions, some respondents still preferred not to express an opinion on this question, stating that are unaware of this condition, corresponding respectively to 25% for municipal representatives and 14,3% to support agents.
With the purpose of complementing the second topics of analysis, it is important to realize that communication between the subjects or agents involved in experiences exchange is a central element for territoriality issue (Albagli, 2004). So,researchers have been trying to identify the perception of the agents interviewed about the general functioning of communication channel with the local governance of APL.
The data derived from productive arrangement communication channel indicated the prevalence of an evaluation that considers good or very good, as can be seen in figure 5. Summarizing, these options represents a 75,8% of businessmen, 85,7% of support agents, and 50% of municipal representatives. However, a significant portion of municipal representatives (33.,%) considers only reasonable this communication channel with the APL, which ratifies the previous conclusion about a minor interaction with some prefectures of the region.
Figure 5.Functioning of the APL communication channel.
The next topic for analysis involves discussions on conditions offered by the local governance of the APL Clothingfrom Southwestern Paraná related to the vision of future and the market and industry trends monitoring. This analysis is essential in present context, because the competitiveness level and the constant need to generate innovations require a shared effort (CasarottoFilho; Pires, 1998;Lastreset. al., 2003).
In this context, the proposal was directed exclusively for APL businessmen, aiming to identify if local governance provides conditions for the generation of an innovative environment. One of questioned aspect were promotions for techniques travels, study missions and visits to trade fairs of the sector, which can enable gains in learning and developing innovations by participating enterprises. Therefore, it was also searched if the APL governance shares information about market conditions, global trends in the sector, or contributes to the prospect of new markets and demands. The results of this question are presented in figure 6.
Figure 6.Businessmenassessmenton innovativeenvironment promotion.
Results indicate that the governance of this APL promotes conditions for generation of an innovative environment. In this sense, it is observed that technical visits occur more frequently than study missions and participation in fairs of the sector. Additionally, the information sharing on the market, global trends in the sector and the prospect of new markets, are also covered by local governance, however, with lower incidence, indicated that occur with a medium intensity.
For these discussions, field research still revealed that local governance has little approximation with other APLs, not being a common practice this interaction with other clusters. Then, could be observed that this process should be further explored at APL in discussion, for experiences sharing and the identification of new possibilitiesfor the guiding and management of own production arrangement.
By means of search results, a list with the main positive points in the evaluation of local governance of APL Clothing from Southwestern Paraná is presented, including the following aspects: leadership; democratic criteria in decision making; priority equal treatment between enterprises of APL; expressive participation of staff planning; meetings with certain periodicity and scope; functioning of communication channel with most agents; promotion of technical visits, study missions and participation in fairs of the sector.However, the survey also revealed some points that need to be improved by this governance or covered by APL, including: greater information sharing with some agents; expand the proximity with the prefectures; promote interaction with other APLs; identify and find means to meet the major demands suggested by all the participating enterprises; monitoring and promote more information about market conditions and industry trends.
Theoretical frameworkdiscussions point out to anendogenization of their local or regional development process, emphasizing local issues and social relations between the territorial agents. Therefore, it is observed the enhancement of industrial agglomerations as well as gains in competitive advantages (efficiency collective) generated by process of articulation and development of joint actions by its agents.
In this scenario, local productive arrangements (APLs) are considered an important strategy for the mobilization and organizing of territorial agents. However, this movement requires institutional mechanisms for the coordination of common interests and cooperative practices, revealing the importance of local governance of APL. Thus, the objective of this research was to analyze the role of local governance in the conduct of the APL Clothing fromSouthwestern Paraná.
Survey results showed that local governance productive arrangement selected as case study has several positive points, with a very good performance in the several questions. Summarizing, it is possible to affirm that local governance performs a democratic management based on leadership actions that facilitate the interaction and joint efforts of the participants of this APL, which strengthens the conditions of development of productive arrangement, as well as the respective region. However, it is important to pay attention to the need for greater proximity to some agents, as well as for assisting the expectations and demands of participating enterprises of APL.Considering these elements, it should be pointed that this research contributes to discussions on the industrial agglomerations and conditions for local or regional development, from an analytical proposal based on the importance of governance of local productive arrangements. In addition, indicators are presented which can assist the management of APL and territorial assets, as well as in local governance self-assessment process.
The application of these instruments for collection and data analysis in different contexts is suggested for future works, including APLs of several economic activities in different regions, in order to identify possible relationships between the role played by the local governance and their contributions to local or regional development.
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1 PhD in Technology, APLs and Regional Development.Professor ofLaboratory in Regional Studies (PPGDR).Federal Technological University of Paraná. Email: email@example.com