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Sticky Places in Slippery Space: A Typology of Industrial Districts


  • Ann Markusen


As advances in transportation and information obliterate distance, cities and regions face a tougher time anchoring income-generating activities. In probing the conditions under which some manage to remain “sticky” places in “slippery” space, this paper rejects the “new industrial district,” in either its Marshallian or more recent Italianate form, as the dominant paradigmatic solution. I identify three additional types of industrial districts, with quite disparate firm configurations, internal versus external orientations, and governance structures: a hub-and-spoke industrial district, revolving around one or more dominant, externally oriented firms; a satellite platform, an assemblage of unconnected branch plants embedded in external organization links; and the state-anchored district, focused on one or more public-sector institutions. The strengths and weaknesses of each are reviewed. The hub-and-spoke and satellite platform variants are argued to be more prominent in the United States than the other two. The findings suggest that the study of industrial districts requires a broader institutional approach and must encompass embeddedness across district boundaries. The research results suggest that a purely locally targeted development strategy will fail to achieve its goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Ann Markusen, 1996. "Sticky Places in Slippery Space: A Typology of Industrial Districts," Economic Geography, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 72(3), pages 293-313, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:recgxx:v:72:y:1996:i:3:p:293-313
    DOI: 10.2307/144402

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