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The Transition to Flexible Specialisation in the U.S. Film Industry: External Economies, the Division of Labour, and the Crossing of Industrial Divides


  • Storper, Michael


There is increasing evidence that mass-production methods are losing their dominance in the advanced industrial economies and that various forms of flexible production organization are on the rise. The transition from mass-production organization to flexible specialization is analyzed in detail through a case study of the film industry, where it is shown that a system of production once based on product standardization, high levels of vertical integration, and stable oligopolistic market structures has, after a period of vertical disintegration, given way to a production system based on a deep division of labor between firms and high levels of flexibility in both product design and output levels. The transition may be the result of increasing external economies of scale stemming from the development of the industry's social division of labor. Copyright 1989 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Storper, Michael, 1989. "The Transition to Flexible Specialisation in the U.S. Film Industry: External Economies, the Division of Labour, and the Crossing of Industrial Divides," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 273-305, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:13:y:1989:i:2:p:273-305

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    1. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
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    3. repec:hrv:faseco:30728041 is not listed on IDEAS
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    1. Dinlersoz, Emin & Greenwood, Jeremy, 2016. "The rise and fall of unions in the United States," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 129-146.
    2. repec:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:8:p:1399-1415 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Peter Leisink, 2000. "Multimedia Industry Networks and Regional Economic Development Policies: The Case of the Netherlands," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 69(4), pages 574-586.
    4. Ruth Towse, 2011. "Creative Industries," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 17 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Steven Albert, 1998. "Movie Stars and the Distribution of Financially Successful Films in the Motion Picture Industry," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 22(4), pages 249-270, December.
    6. Antonio Fonfria & Isabel Alvarez & Raquel Marin, "undated". "The Role of Networking in the Competitiveness Profile of Spanish Firms," EcoMod2006 272100027, EcoMod.
    7. Grillitsch, Markus, 2017. "Transformation Capacity of the Innovative Entrepreneur: On the interplay between social structure and agency," Papers in Innovation Studies 2017/2, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    8. Santagata Walter, 2002. "Cultural districts, property rights and sustainable economic growth," EBLA Working Papers 200201, University of Turin.
    9. Fiorenza Belussi & Silvia Rita Sedita, 2006. "The Management of Events in the Veneto Performing Music Cluster: Bridging Latent and Permanent Organisations," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0028, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    10. Xavier Castañer & Lorenzo Campos, 2002. "The Determinants of Artistic Innovation: Bringing in the Role of Organizations," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 26(1), pages 29-52, February.
    11. Scott, Allen J., 2002. "A new map of Hollywood and the world," ERSA conference papers ersa02p521, European Regional Science Association.
    12. Björn Frank, 2008. "Location decisions in a changing labour market environment," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 28(1), pages 31-42, February.
    13. Joris Ebbers & Nachoem Wijnberg, 2012. "The effects of having more than one good reputation on distributor investments in the film industry," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 36(3), pages 227-248, August.
    14. Lombardi, Mauro, 2003. "The evolution of local production systems: the emergence of the "invisible mind" and the evolutionary pressures towards more visible "minds"," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1443-1462, September.
    15. Vicente Donoso & Victor Martín Barroso, 2004. "Exportaciones y crecimiento económico: El caso de España," Working Papers del Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales 0405, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales.
    16. Benner, Maximilian, 2009. "What do we know about clusters? In search of effective cluster policies," MPRA Paper 43848, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2009.
    17. Walter Santagata, 2002. "Cultural districts, property rights, and sustainable economic growth," Others 0210004, EconWPA.
    18. Jurgen Essletzbichler, 2003. "From Mass Production to Flexible Specialization: The Sectoral and Geographical Extent of Contract Work in US Manufacturing, 1963-1997," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(8), pages 753-771.
    19. Peter B. Doeringer & Pacey Foster & Stephan Manning & David Terkla, 2013. "Project-based industries and craft-like production: structure, location and performance," Chapters,in: Handbook of Industry Studies and Economic Geography, chapter 4, pages 99-151 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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