In This Review

Upgrading to Complete: Global Value Chains, Clusters, and SMEs in Latin America
Upgrading to Complete: Global Value Chains, Clusters, and SMEs in Latin America
By Carlo Pietrobelli and Roberta Rabellotti (eds)
Harvard University Press, 2007, 330 pp

An international team of researchers from Italy and Latin America working with Inter-American Development Bank staff applies analyses of industry clusters and global supply chains to compelling Latin American success stories. In-depth case studies examine Nicaraguan dairy, Brazilian fresh fruit, Chilean salmon, Brazilian metalworking, Mexican software -- and one disappointing experience, Mexican rustic furniture. While emphasizing distinctions among sectors, the authors extract recommendations aimed at promoting the global competitiveness of small and medium-sized firms and increasing productivity, salaries, and profits. In natural-resource-based clusters, where Latin America often leads, governments can promote public-private collaboration in education and research, as well as provide the necessary transportation infrastructure. Governments may also usefully intervene to help processing firms reach the high standards required by global markets with regard to quality, health, and environmental sustainability. Sometimes private-sector associations are better at international marketing and quality certification, but little mention is made of international nongovernmental organization certification programs, through which conscientious firms can seek a competitive advantage in global markets, where consumers are increasingly aware of social and environmental standards.