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Footwear Cluster in Kolkata: A Case of Self-Exploitative Fragmentation

Roy, Satyaki (2009): Footwear Cluster in Kolkata: A Case of Self-Exploitative Fragmentation.

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Abstract

Studies in industrial clusters largely identify the institutional failures and imperfections that prevail in the supply of indivisible inputs and collective action. This paper critically reviews a typical ‘low‐road’ cluster in Kolkata and argues that market failures due to existence of information imperfections, externalities and public good and the institutional failure to resolve those imperfections only partially explain the depressed status in these clusters. The explanation, however, critically rests on the fact of asymmetric power relations and conflicts arising between the trader and the small producer reproducing a production relation that thwarts the high road growth path. The spawning of small enterprises in such clusters, as the argument goes, is a result of self‐exploitative fragmentation that does not flow from entrepreneurship but is a result of survival strategy of labour in the context of depressed wages.

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