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The New Old EconomyNetworks, Institutions, and the Organizational Transformation of American Manufacturing$
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Josh Whitford

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199286010

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199286010.001.0001

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Toward the Relational Reconstruction of Regional Political Economy

Toward the Relational Reconstruction of Regional Political Economy

(p.154) 7 Toward the Relational Reconstruction of Regional Political Economy
The New Old Economy

Josh Whitford (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that American manufacturing is mired in an altogether partial transition to a more collaborative interfirm organization of production, rife with ongoing contradictions that sit uneasily with sociological literatures on network organizational forms. Many large American manufacturers are making real efforts to follow the prescriptive tenets of the collaborative new production paradigm even as their efforts are deeply constrained by the need to hedge fundamental uncertainties caused by a history of poor relationships and a lack of institutional support. This combination of mixed motives and occasional abject failure leaves a relational structure that is neither the collaborative production network that Powell calls the very building block of the 21st century firm, nor is it an atomistic world of hostile arm's-length contracting. Rather, relationships between OEMs and suppliers in American durable manufacturing are best described as a complex mix of the two, suggesting that the possibilities are considerably less bifurcated than the existing literature would have them be.

Keywords:   American manufacturing, OEM, suppliers, interfirm collaboration, production

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