Collaboration in Industry: Empirical Findings among Small Electronics Manufacturing Firms in the Greater Toronto Area
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According to many researchers, the use of inter-firm collaborative practices as a new industrial production strategy is increasing as a response to industrial restructuring and changing environmental conditions. The adoption of these practices is thought to be particularly critical for small firms, and consequently governments in most industrialized countries have designed specific policies aimed at encouraging inter-firm relationships. The few empirical studies have focused on the experiences of model industrial districts to support claims about the ubiquity of collaborative relations. The present study of a more typical urban area examines three interrelated issues: the incidence of inter-firm relations, the motivations and forms of collaboration, and the influence of public policies on inter-firm relationships. Information was collected from 191 small electronics firms in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The results suggest that inter-firm collaboration is moderately common but not the norm. The incidence of collaborative activities is likely to increase with company size. While motives for inter-firm activities vary slightly with firm size, the nature and forms of agreements are largely similar among various sizes of firms. The paper notes that public policies and programs within the GTA have not had the desired impact of creating cooperative attitudes among small electronics firms.