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DT 02/19 Regional economic development, productive specializations and business cooperation. A comparative study of Chile, El Salvador, Paraguay and Uruguay

This research has two aims. On the one hand, it characterizes regional development in the four selected countries. On the other hand, it analyzes cooperation networks between firms and organizations, in 24 clusters in different regions of the four countries. Regarding the first aim, the work analyzes in each region the generation of wealth, the development of small business sector and socioeconomic conditions of the environment, complemented by the identification of the productive specializations in each region. Results show that economic development is not evenly distributed in the territory. Certain sub-national patterns in terms of economic development were found. In addition, there is a strong concentration of economic activity in the regions where the national capitals are located (except for the regions rich in mining or energy resources). The analysis of local business development and the socioeconomic environment shows that, in addition to external factors, a region must develop its own local capacities to take advantage of these external impulses and transform them into local development. Regarding the second objective, the study of 24 cooperation networks in clusters proves that organizations are the key actors to keep the networks connected. On the other hand, the level of cooperation among firms is, on average, low. In this sense, the countries under study do not present, in general, regions with high levels of local business capacity that can be the main support of cooperation networks. Therefore, organizations play an intermediary role between firms and provide access to external sources of innovation that can be disseminated through the network. Finally, the combination of social network analysis with econometric regression techniques revealed a positive relationship between the cooperation in networks and the economic performance of firms.
 
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