The institutional shape of regional SME-based sectors in Spain
Department of Business Administration University Rovira i Virgili Tarragona, Spain
The paper makes an institutional analysis of the construcion of regional industrial sectors based on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Specifically, it looks at the relation between three main dimensions in the evolution of advanced industrial economy in Spain during the last 3 decades: firm-size, sector and region. It is assumed that latent conflicts are present in the interplay between these three dimensions. The objective of the paper is to contribute with the case of Spain to the discussion on the relations between firm-size, sector and regions, and the collective actors and agents that play institutional games in shaping the reconfiguration processes of nation-state business systems and capitalisms.
There are two units of analysis. First, the interplay between public actors and private actors involved directly or indirectly in the constitution of the regional SME-based sectors. Second, the role played by the regional industry associations that have emerged and constituted in Spain to articulate, represent and organize the interest of regional sector SMEs. Conceptually, two main concepts are deployed: collective competition goods, and organizational power.
Regarding research methods, a longitudinal research has been conducted, based on secondary literature and data, archive analysis and about 40 semi-structured interviews with key informants and actors, during the period 2001-2008.
The main general conclusion is that regional SMEs in different sectors have been able to construct and develop their collective competition goods through different types of institutional strategies and different arrangements of public-private collaboration. Concrete conclusions are as follows. First, that the traditional conflicts between SME and large firms are also found to be reproduced in the new sectors, such as ICT and biotechnology. Second, differences in sector organization need to be combined with regional differences concerning regional business systems, institutional framework and regional industrial policies. Third, that, beyond regional differences, the industry associations of regional SME-based sectors have tended to increase their organizational autonomy and power, and in that sense the collective competition goods have acquired a more private character. Fourth, the hybridation thesis of national models of business systems or capitalisms is somehow confirmed.