Document details

Portuguese footwear

Author(s): Sena-Dias, Pedro

Date: 2014

Persistent ID:

Origin: Repositório Institucional da UNL

Subject(s): Cluster; Trade Association; Footwear; Positive Leadership; Manufacture; Globalization; China; Portugal; Domínio/Área Científica::Ciências Sociais; Domínio/Área Científica::Ciências Sociais; Domínio/Área Científica::Ciências Sociais


This case study deals with the reasons why the Portuguese Footwear Cluster evolved from a small industry focused on the Portuguese internal market into a high-tech industry capable of designing and producing some of the best and most expensive shoes in the world. It went from using the low labor costs of an under-developed economy to produce long series of shoes for pre-designated brands in Northern Europe to having the ability to produce some of the highest quality shoes in the world, in small orders, designed and delivered in record timing, while offering a service of excellence. In 1960, when Portugal became a founding member of EFTA, the footwear industry in Portugal was globally irrelevant, producing low quality shoes directed to the puny internal market and its African colonies. The new free trade zone with economies much more developed that itself, led to the transfer of the labor-intensive, low skilled manufacture from the UK and Scandinavian countries to Portugal. Mostly through joint ventures, the industry was able to mechanize itself so it could produce shoes in long series at low prices. It grew based on that model up until the 1990s, when the emergence of the Asian countries meant either a different strategy or extinction. Taking advantage of a clarified leadership of its trade association, it used the European funds made available to it during the 1990s, to modernize its factory floors, so it could become more nimble and flexible, expand its design capabilities and dramatically change its image abroad. The role of the trade association, APICCAPS, was instrumental throughout the process going well beyond what came to be expected of trade associations. It used its privileged position to provide understanding regarding the current situation and competitive landscape, alerting for changes ahead and at the same time providing a strategic vision on how to deal with the challenges. Moreover, it helped companies get the resources they needed by creating a research center in collaboration with a University, by creating a process that allowed companies to learn from each other via the show casing of projects sponsored by the association or by helping industrials traveling to locations where new customers could be found. The case study provides insight on how the trade association leadership, which has no formal authority over its members, was able to guide and motivate an industry through a consistent positive approach. That approach focused on the solutions, on the opportunities and on the success stories of companies in the cluster rather than on what was wrong or needed to be addressed. Based on this case, one could use the leadership role of the trade association to discuss and change leaders’ roles and styles in other sectors or even companies.

Document Type Master thesis
Language English
Advisor(s) Cunha, Miguel Pina e
Contributor(s) Sena-Dias, Pedro
facebook logo  linkedin logo  twitter logo 
mendeley logo

Related documents

No related documents