I was very glad to receive a Regional Studies Association Travel Award to present a paper at the XVIIth Annual Meeting of a network of researchers and practitioners from the Southern Common Market interested in SMSEs (XVIIª Reunión Anual de la Red PyMEs Mercosur). The conference took place at the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Sept. 26-28th. The annual meeting of Red Pymes has been held in a number of cities in Argentina and a couple of times in Brazil. This year’s conference title was “SMEs, Clusters and Innovation: an agenda for MERCOSUR”.
Red Pymes is an institution affiliated to the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) since 2010; it is based in the city of Rafaela, Santa Fe province, Argentina. The board of Red Pymes Mercosur is made up of people from a number of universities in Argentina and Brazil ( www.redpymes.org.ar ).
As a network of researchers, Red Pymes was born in 1995, 17 years ago. As a formal organization dedicated to the promotion of theoretical and practical knowledge about SMSEs it was founded in 2002; this year Red Pymes celebrates ten years of existence. The participation of researchers and practitioners from a number of public, private and international organizations was a key factor in the founding of the network and in the first years of existence of Red Pymes Mercosur.
“Red” in Spanish means net, for example, “red de pesca” is a fishing net, but it also means network: a constellation of individuals and institutions connected by common interest and activities. “Pymes” is the Spanish acronym for SMSEs. And “Mercosur” stands for “Mercado Común del Sur” or Southern Common Market. The name reflects the spirit of the organization. It was founded by people who believe action precedes the comfortable contours of institutions and rules and that explains that although Red Pymes is now indeed a formal organization (with rules, authorities, minutiae, and budgets) the institution has not changed the word “Red” (that is network) for “Asociación”, for example. Red Pymes was founded with the idea of going beyond political borders and across languages and that is why the word Mercosur was and is part of the name of the institution. Almost naturally, these two words embrace the word Pymes: the theme that is the excuse for a myriad of researchers and practitioners to converge.
Generally 60-70 papers are presented annually at this meeting by economists, geographers, planners, sociologists and other academics and professionals interested in businesses, entrepreneurship, local and regional economic development and a number of other topics related to SMSEs. Meetings draw between 150 and 200 people, most from Argentina and Brazil but also from a number of other Latin American countries and occasionally from Spain. Since Red Pymes Mercosur became an affiliate of ICSB we have had presentations from members of the board of ICSB. Starting this year papers may be presented in Spanish or Portuguese but also in English.
Major topics of this year’s meeting were: Sectors, Networks, Productive Chains and Company Clusters; Entrepreneurship, Creation, Development and Formation of Companies; SMEs, Creativity and Innovation; Business Management in SMEs; Labor and Employment Organization in SMEs.
In all, 76 papers were presented at this year’s conference. People from 11 different countries presented papers at the conference: Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Perú, Ecuador, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Germany, and the US. Most of them were academic papers but there were also panels were practical experiences were presented. The meeting was held at the College of Production Engineering of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In addition to about 30 parallel sessions, there were a number of plenary sessions.
In one of those plenary sessions the organizers invited me to make a brief presentation of the Regional Studies Association and its activities. At that session and in the presentation of a paper I was able to distribute the materials sent by the RSA office, which people found very attractive and informative. Many people did not know about the RSA and found it is an attractive proposition in relation to its annual cost.
I have included a few pictures that may be used if this report is published. I would like to thank the president of Red Pymes, Rubén Ascúa, and the chair of the local organizing committee, Renato García, for their generosity and collaborative attitude.
At this event I presented a paper on audiovisual production in Argentina, an activity carried out mostly by SMSEs in this country. The title of the paper was “Characteristics of audiovisual production in Argentina: Results from a survey of audiovisual production companies” (Características de la producción audiovisual en la Argentina: Resultados de una encuesta a productoras). The paper has recently been published inImagofagia, a specialized electronic journal on film and audiovisual studies.
This paper presents results of a recently completed multipurpose survey of 50 film producers in Argentina; most of them small and medium-sized enterprises. The survey was carried out between October 2011 and January 2012. No such survey has been carried out previously in Argentina nor are there many similar examples of other developing economies. Most of the firms surveyed are located in the city of Buenos Aires and its suburbs (46 out of 50). Thus, the paper presents a description and analysis of audiovisual production in the regional economy of the city of Buenos Aires.
Although the paper presents an overview of film production in Buenos Aires and Argentina, it focuses on three major themes explored in the survey: firm formation, capacities (characteristics of the owners and labour force, size and characteristics of the projects carried out, etc.), and linkages (inter-firm, with associated activities—TV, commercials–and institutions and state agencies, both nationally and abroad). A look at these themes will provide a good overview of the structure and dynamics of the audiovisual complex centered in Buenos Aires and its likely evolution in the future. The exploration of these topics will contribute to: (i) a substantial insight into the characteristics of firms in technologically dynamic activities in a large metropolis of the developing world (over 14 million people); (ii) a better understanding of cultural industries in such an urban-regional setting; (iii) a more profound knowledge of the difficulties faced by these firms in terms of sustaining a business, developing technical and organizational capacities, and constructing linkages with other firms and institutions in a small-market economy.
The main conclusions of the paper point to: a significant geographic concentration of firms, labor force, and suppliers in an area of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Region; the importance of educational and on-the-job experiences in firm formation; the high levels of vertical disintegration prevalent in the audiovisual complex and hence the existence of some very specialized suppliers in the regional economy; the relevance of national state policies for the development of new projects in a context of yet incipient urban and regional support policies.
This paper is part of an on-going research project on film production, distribution and consumption in Argentina. Although the presentation is centered on the processes and agents connected to film production, the larger project of which this paper is part also analyses consumption and distribution and their interaction with production. One underlying intention of this paper is to contribute to a more precise description of the architecture of production systems in large city-centered regional systems of less-developed countries.