Free Access
Volume 15, Number 1, 2001
Page(s) 57 - 75
DOI: 10.1051/ejess:2001108

European Journal of Economic and Social Systems 15 N°1 (2001) 57-75

The firm/territory relationships in the globalisation: towards a new rationale

Jean-Benoit Zimmermann

CNRS, GREQAM - EHESS, 2, rue de la Charité, 13002 Marseille, France. E-mail:

The aim of this paper is the presentation of an approach of firms-territories relationships in terms of firms' nomadism and territorial anchorage of technological and industrial activities. Such an approach is founded on the necessity to overcome the "volatile" firm's level of analysis, in which firm's mobility is investigated from the sole point of view of the leaven location. On the contrary, it should be relevant to focus on the firm's dynamics through its connections with the whole set of territories and to conceive the firm-territory relation as a result of the dialectic confrontation of the respectively concerned firm and territory both dynamics, both trajectories. Hence we are led to characterise the localised industrial unit as placed at the crossroad of a triple link: with a firm (or a group), with an industry and with a territory. Such a threefold coupling relies on proximity's effects, alternately from organisational and geographical nature, whose conjunction generates territorial anchoring and leads to the notion of productive encounter, in the sense of a capacity to formulate and give solutions to productive issues, within the context of firm-territory relationship. In terms of formal models, research works are at the very first step. Nevertheless, an approach in terms of "small worlds" seems to present very fruitful perspectives. We develop the foundations of such an approach and expose how it can provide a good framework to explain territorial anchorage and, more widely, the strength of clusters. A concrete illustration is extensively developed about SGS-Thomson Microelectronics group with regard to its productive site in Rousset, in the French Bouches-du-Rhone district.

Key words: Proximity, territory, territorial anchorage, nomadism, clusters.

© EDP Sciences 2001