ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Operationalisation of Flexible Specialisation-Agra s Footwear Industry

Agra's Footwear Industry Peter Knorringa Even though no industrial cluster in the world can live up to the flexible specialisation model, it does generate ideas useful for exploring possible roads ahead for low-tech craft-based clusters in India. In this paper the authors argue that a comparative advantage in manufacturing quality-competitive hand-made shoes can only be achieved if workers are not treated only as a cost but also as an asset Still, at present most workers in Agra manufacture low quality products under sweat-shop rule. A shift to more quality-competitive production with better employment conditions seems feasible because of firstly, the present underutilisation of artisanal skills, and, secondly, booming market niches for fashionable artisanal designer shoes. However, such a shift is impeded by caste-based antagonism, omnipresent instability and the use of outdated technologies.

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