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The article performs an exploratory analysis on the insertion of workers in the automobile industry in the southern region of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Based on the literature on Varieties of Capitalism, especially its more recent re-readings, oriented towards the problem of institutional change, the work explores the hypothesis that this insertion reveals strategies of work relations on the part of companies that combine the exploitation of local institutional resources before -existing, linked to advantages such as low-cost labor and tax exemptions, regarding the creation of new resources.

Through interviews with a selected group of workers of different profiles working in companies in the cluster, the results confirm the existence of strategies of both types, although those linked to the exploitation of low labor costs predominate.

The results of an exploratory nature show that the automobile cluster in the South of Fluminense still has little evidence that denote a more consistent form of upgrading, with the search for strategies leading to an institutional change that, in turn, leading to a more advantageous position being open. in the automotive industry chain, which includes not only activities with greater content of innovation and technology, but also spill overs to other economic activities.


This work aims to discuss the different dimensions of the “governance” problem, having as a reference the role played by business entities in promoting regional development in the south of the state of Rio de Janeiro, from now on referred to as Sul Fluminense.

The region is characterized by the presence of an important cluster of steel and metallurgical companies, especially Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), in addition to plants of large national and international groups such as Votorantim, Saint-Gobain and Michelin.

Inspired by the literature on Third Italy, one model stands out, that of “Local Productive Arrangements” (APLs). This is shown as a research program and public policy agenda, with the general objective of identifying and/or promoting the aforementioned characteristics in the most varied industrial clusters – such as the “Metal-Mechanical APL”, discussed in this text.

The results presented in this article demonstrate, on the one hand, that the idea of APL gained centrality in the entities' agenda throughout the analyzed period and, on the other hand, that the results are ambiguous in relation to the effectiveness of this agenda.

Therefore, the article intends to develop a critique of the general model of APLs as a theoretical and public policy paradigm, due to its excessive emphasis on the strategic dimension of what is conventionally called the “governance” of economic actors and processes.

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