Cooperation challenges in production clusters: A study case on the knitting sector in south Brazil

Leonardo Neumann, Astor Hexsel, Alsones Balestrin


Cooperation can be one of the solutions for the competitiveness of small and medium companies, which in general are found in fragmented sectors. Thus, the main goal of this paper is to identify factors that promote or hinder the implementation of cooperationstrategies in the knitting cluster of Nova Petrópolis (RS). Considering theoretical references on networks and industrial economy, a field research was conducted, interviewing 34 entrepreneurs based on a semi-structured survey. The results indicated a low level ofcooperative actions, which are restricted to some production activities and to the promotion of a knitting trade show. One of the greatest difficulties for cooperation is the lack of trust, partially explained by failures occurred in the past and by the perception that the main competitors are the companies in the same cluster. There is also a lack of a networking agent and mechanisms of self-governance. Besides these factors, external ones, usually not highlighted by the literature of this area, are also limiting cooperation, such as economic and social instability, the presence of multiple market segments and the seasonality of sales. These elements limit, for example, the scale profits resulting from collaborative actions.

Key words: cooperation, clusters, small and medium enterprises.

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