Natural resource-based clusters and their linkages to a long interoceanic corridor in South America

  • Clusters basados en Recursos Naturales en América Latina: conexión y posibilidades de desarrollo a lo largo del Corredor Interoceánico Central

Moreno, Kattia; Fromhold-Eisebith, Martina (Thesis advisor); Neiberger, Cordula Sylke (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2017, 2018)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, RWTH Aachen University, 2017


This doctoral study is based on the analysis of four clusters whose principal activity is based on the extraction of natural resources: the mining activity and soybean cultivation. The analysis and development of clusters are main parts of space and regional theories. Industrial location and agglomeration processes have their roots in spatial theories and are presented in the first chapters of this doctoral study in order to support and frame the main empirical approach and conceptualization. The four selected natural resource-based clusters are the Bolivian mining clusters in Oruro and Potosi, the Peruvian Southern Macro Region - especially Arequipa - and the principal soybean center per excellence in Bolivia, Santa Cruz. These centers were selected due to the following two reasons: first, the potential for these centers to turn into natural resource-based clusters in Peru and Bolivia, since the obstacles and facilities that promote and restrain the growth and development in each clustering process are acknowledged here. The second reason for the selection of these clusters is their geographical location on the South American continent and across the CIC. The development of these clusters is embedded in a mega transport project which is part of an interregional concept for integration in Latin-America called "Central Interoceanic Corridor - CIC". At this point the aim of the doctoral study is to analyze how far those clusters can profit from a mega transport project that aims to integrate regions and promote intersectorial diversification. In fact, the CIC is one of ten mega transport projects in South America, but its influence over the development of natural resource-based clusters remains ambiguous. It is proven that infrastructure, economic development and growth go hand in hand, but according to the actual situation a region has this needs to be verified and demonstrated. It is necessary to prove if a coherent spatial used exit and if a correlation between the necessities of a region and the functionality of the transport project merge into each other. The cluster analysis made in the four centers is guided by two principal models used in the analysis of clustering processes: The Porter's Diamond (1989), and a complementary model described by Zaccarelli et al. (2008), who analyzed the competitiveness of clusters supported by a "supra-enterprise system". Both concepts frame the cluster analysis. The Porter model has been used by different scholars in the geography literature, but is also criticized. Clusters are not static systems whose only goal is to agglomerate economic elements and actors in a geographically nearby area. To form or to name an area "cluster" means that it is expected to turn into a dynamic system in which relationships, networking and linkages with internal and external actors enlarge the first idea of Porter. The dynamism supposes movement and goes beyond each geographical barrier. Natural resource-based clusters are not exclusively concentrated in a single geographical area. They are split into different spaces: production areas or extractive centers are concentrated in low-income countries but with a surplus of natural resources, while commercialization and industrialization of a final product are located in high-industrialized centers abroad. The linkage between both spaces is required in a global commodity chain, but to become a part of it a well-established and coherent infrastructure is needed. During the first part of the analysis the potential to develop into natural resource-based clusters is recognized. Endogen available factors and exogenous factors come to the fore as main inputs of the clustering performance. Moreover the development stage, the influence of headquarters abroad over local core firms and the cultural heritage are basic elements during the clustering process. Indeed the regions selected have an important cultural heritage and tradition in both mining and soybean cultivation, which are also inputs. The complementary model of Zacarelli et al. (2008) called rural communities and the network they create "supra-enterprise systems", which have the capacity to cooperate and collaborate in order to obtain benefits. In this context, the analysis of natural-resource based clusters in selected areas of Latin Americas is enlarged. During the second part of the analysis the influence of the Central Interoceanic Corridor (CIC) over the selected clusters and the economic regional development is shown. In order to understand how far the CIC influences the clusters, it is necessary to know the function it aims for. In the case of the CIC, which crosses several countries in Latin America, its principal aim is to integrate regions and promote regional and interregional commerce. It will be proved and demonstrated how far this is the case in the selected clusters and areas.