Philipp Brandt, Andrew Schrank, Josh Whitford
Brokerage and Boots on the Ground: Complements or Substitutes in the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships?

Economic Development Quarterly, 2018: 32, issue 4, pp. 288-299
ISSN: 0891-2424 (print); 1552-3543 (online)

There is more agreement on the need for advisory services to help small and midsized manufacturers keep up with the latest managerial techniques and technologies than there is on the optimal design of those services. This study reconfigures and reanalyzes administrative data from the American Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and draws on extensive interviews with “street-level bureaucrats” at Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers, to identify and compare variation in centers’ approaches to service delivery. Centers and clients who rely on third-party providers tend to have more rather than less enduring ties, suggesting that it’s direct delivery, rather than brokerage, that is associated with one-shot deals. There is evidence also that projects generate the most impact when they help “get the relationships right” and mitigate network failures.