The industrial cluster:
A high-performance lever
Success proven through Canada’s aerospace industry
“In the context of globalization, human capital is one of the main assets companies and regions have in the competition for investments,” says Christian Lévesque, professor at the École des hautes études commerciales de Montréal. ”So, co-ordinating efforts to facilitate access to a well-trained and innovative workforce is essential.”
As co-director of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work, made up of 16 Canadian universities and 25 foreign educational institutions, Lévesque led a SSHRC-funded study to better understand the dynamics of innovation within the aerospace industrial cluster in the Montréal region, particularly related to human resources.
The “industrial cluster” concept is defined as a concentration of businesses and institutions specializing in the same sector in a given region. This flexible organizational model, which has become very popular among policy-makers and local and regional development agencies, allows better co-ordination of efforts—for example in training a highly qualified workforce and developing collaborative arrangements to foster innovation of all kinds. Business leaders are able to benefit from the atmosphere of dialogue and trust between the partners in order to stimulate technological innovation and to encourage employee engagement in the search for new ways of doing things.
The aerospace industrial cluster in the Montréal region includes more than 235 organizations of all sizes and is ranked fifth in the world for business volume and employment in the aerospace sector. The cluster involves a multitude of important stakeholders, including: businesses, unions, universities and other training institutions, research institutes, professional and economic associations, governments, financial services organizations, etc.
“These stakeholders share a common understanding of the challenges, and are open to breaking down organizational silos. Together, they can help maintain the competitiveness of companies from here, and enable them to take better advantage of globalization,” says Lévesque.