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Decentralization and Small-Scale Manufacturing: The Basis of Sustainable Regions?

Wells, Peter Erskine and Nieuwenhuis, Paul Andre Henri Francois 2004. Decentralization and Small-Scale Manufacturing: The Basis of Sustainable Regions? Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 6 (3-4) , pp. 191-205. 10.1080/1523908042000344087

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The corporate agenda of globalization, centralization and economies-of-scale appears both irreversible and difficult to reconcile with concepts of local sustainability. Geo-political institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and economic trading blocks such as the European Union appear to reinforce the primacy of economic forces beyond regional and national control, resulting in loss of autonomy and a sense of dependency and vulnerability. This paper explores the potential for an alternative economics grounded in decentralization and small-scale manufacturing. Two themes are highlighted: the political, cultural and market forces behind a reversal of globalization; and the radical business model that allows the concepts of sustainability to be realized and thereby alter the terms of competition. While the critique of globalization has been expounded by many observers and much has been done to delineate both the theoretical content of sustainability and its manifestation in an idealistic vision of future society, there has been little practical work on achieving the transition to sustainable regions. The key theme is the extent to which the prevailing logic of scale and lowest unit financial cost can be refuted by the new logic of quality, distinctiveness and lowest lifetime environmental cost. There are instances where the search for the application of sustainability concepts has resulted in new but successful business models. This paper provides a pragmatic, grounded account based on the automotive industry to illustrate how new business concepts, in particular Micro Factory Retailing, can form the basis of a diversified, distributed economic structure with resilience and structural flexibility, and which re-creates the region as a meaningful economic entity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS)
Centre for Advanced Manufacturing Systems At Cardiff (CAMSAC)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Local sustainability; micro factory retailing; automotive industry; decentralized economies; globalization
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1523-908X
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2020 03:36

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