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The effect of industrial competition on employment: A Porter’s approach to the study of industrial clusters in Mexico

Alfonso Mendoza-Velazquez (Center for Research in Economics, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) Puebla, Mexico)

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




This study investigates the existence of Marshall, Jacob and Porter’s type of externalities in Mexico. We measure the impact of industrial specialization, competition and diversity on employment growth for the period 2004 to 2008.


The analysis is based on data from 41 highly dynamic industrial clusters originally obtained by applying Porter’s (1998) methodology. We use a cross-section specification estimated via instrumental variables and two-stage least square estimation (2SLS) to control for endogeneity.


On average, we find that industrial specialization exerts a negative impact on employment growth within states and within clusters, indicating that traded industries in Mexico carry very little innovation, operate in early stages of the life cycle, face high costs of employment reassignation or exhibit low adaptability. A negative impact of specialization on employment conforms with Jacobs (1969) type of externalities and confirms what other studies have found in France (Combes, 2000), Korea (Lee et al., 2005) and the USA (Delgado et al., 2014). The authors also find that competition generates more employment.

Research limitations/implications

Industrial data at the sub-branch level were obtained from the Economic Census (EC) of the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI). The EC information for 2004 was still not fully compatible with the North America Industry Classification System (NAICS), with 262 of the 309 data at the fourth-digit level aligned to the USA. In addition, industrial information from the EC is recorded every four years, which prevents this study to use panel data techniques and it makes it impossible to use time series methods.

Practical implications

Policymakers can clearly identify competition forces having a significant impact on employment growth. This can orient policymakers to implement measures to encourage the development of some of these clusters, as well as to identify some of the sources that drive specialization, competition and diversity.


This paper contributes to the debate on the existence of Marshallian (MAR), Jacobian and Porter externalities. This is the first study using the definition of traded clusters in Mexico, which allows the authors to identify how specialization, competition and diversity forces drive the dynamics of regional employment growth.



Mendoza-Velazquez, A. (2017), "The effect of industrial competition on employment: A Porter’s approach to the study of industrial clusters in Mexico", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 410-432.



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