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Hierarchical Clusters: Emergence and Success of the Automotive Districts of Barcelona and São Paulo



This article analyzes the causes for the long-term success of the Barcelona (Spain) and São Paulo (Brazil) automobile industry clusters. Comparative evidence suggests that both clusters emerged in the early twentieth century through the formation of Marshallian external economies. Nevertheless, neither Barcelona nor São Paulo reached mass automobile production before 1950. The consolidation of the clusters required the adoption of strategic industrial policy during the golden age of capitalism. This policy succeeded in encouraging a few hub firms to undertake mass production by using domestic parts. The strategic policy also favored these leading corporations transferring their technical, organizational, and distribution capabilities, which in turn amplified the advantages of the clusters. Local institutions did not make a significant contribution.



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The authors wish to express their gratitude to the Spanish Government (MINECO and MICINN) and to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for their financial support through the HAR2015-64769-P and PGC2018 093896-B-100 projects. They also are indebted to  the Kurgan-van Hentenryk Chair in Business History of the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. They also wish to thank the organizers and audience members of the 21st Congress of the European Business History Association held in Vienna. Possible mistakes are the exclusive responsibility of the authors.



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Hierarchical Clusters: Emergence and Success of the Automotive Districts of Barcelona and São Paulo



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