Communities of Practice, Clusters or Networks? Prospects for Collaborative Business Arrangements in the Mining and Engineering Sector, Central Western New South Wales

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter

Abstract

Research funded by the Orange, Cabonne, and Blayney local government areas (OCB) and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development highlighted potential for industry-based collaboration to promote sustainable regional development. This paper reports the results of a pilot study within the mining and engineering industry sector in the OCB region undertaken in response to the above.The literature on industry collaboration has evolved quickly over the last decade, with three potential developmental models ' communities of practice, networks, and clusters ' identified as key options for improving regional development. Despite their differences in structure and function none are readily established and sustained unless there is strong social capital within the collaboration and embeddedness within the local region.The responses of the study's participants noted a number of benefits to collaboration, particularly in terms of marketing, economies of scale related to production and in lobbying. However, no one model was preferred by a majority of respondents with some favouring the flexibility of cluster type arrangements and others the more formal structures and outcomes of networking. Arrangements epitomising 'communities of practice' received the least support.Despite the obvious advantages, low levels of trust between potential partners and divergent views on best possible structure and function of collaborative arrangements means that much foundational relationship building and research into the most appropriate collaborative form needs to be undertaken before these advantages become a reality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEngagement & change
Subtitle of host publicationexploring management, economic and finance implications of a globalising environment
Place of PublicationBrisbane, Australia
PublisherAustralian Academic Press
Pages249-260
Number of pages12
Edition21
ISBN (Print)9781875378883
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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