Overcoming the Challenges of Cooperation: The Case of Joint Upgrading in Guadalajara's Apparel Industry
Lowe, Nichola J.
This paper examines local efforts to facilitate interactive learning and knowledge sharing among small and medium-sized apparel manufacturers in Guadalajara, Mexico. It focuses on a government-sponsored training program that gets design-oriented and technologically-advanced producers (most of which are of medium size) to team up with their less experienced local counterparts. Under the close supervision of skilled mentor firms, smaller-sized and bare bones manufacturers from Guadalajara's historic apparel cluster are experimenting with higher-valued added processes, like product design, marketing and full-package production. Close attention is paid to the innovative planning practices of and adaptive problem-solving techniques used by program administrators as they attempt to secure a commitment to mentoring from local firms, help those active in mentoring over-come the real challenges and constraints of cooperation and sustain joint upgrading efforts by helping participants realize the larger developmental value of this form of dynamic collective action.