Modernisation without flexible specialisation: how large firm restructuring and government regional policies became the step-parents of autarchic regional production systems in France
This paper discusses the adjustment of large firms in France, in particular how theyregionalised their production structures in the 1980s. Throughout the Golden Age,large firms had geographically reorganised their activities: strategic planning remained in Paris, while the actual production was decentralised into the provinces, primarily to address cost and labour conflict issues. A proto-regionalised production system was the result.When the large firms then faced a serious profitability crisis in the 1980s, and thetraditional state-financed way out of the problems was no longer available, they sawin these proto-regional production systems a chance to become more competitive. Inorder to make the necessary changes, they relied on the decentralisation policies ofthe governments in the 1980s. Using the examples of technology and training policy, the paper demonstrates how the large firms used the second-order effects of the new policies as a means to modernise their own operations
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