This work consolidates a research effort to analyze 70 years of economic development in the region of the Paraíba do Sul River, in the south of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The paper follows the trajectory of the leader company, steelmaker Companhia Siderúrgica National, and its relations with other local actors, such as government and universities. The research question investigates if the steel market is still the company's core business and its evolution in the competitive global production network. This work introduces a different exploratory approach, analyzing productive networks using an industrial district typology and the linkages based on the Triple Helix of university–industry–government. The literature review and case study show the first transition, after the privatization process in the nineties, transforming a state-owned company with a focus in the national market into a transnational corporation with business on four continents. The second transition, from the steel market to a globally integrated production chain of mining and steel is underway. The region's configuration migrated from a company town in a state-centered model to a central-radial arrangement. The second migration to a satellite platform is in progress. Regarding technology development, the company's strategy changed from in-house research and development to buying technology. There is a recent effort to recreate interaction space with universities.
Companhia Siderúrgica National (CSN) wasincorporated by the Brazilian government during the Second World War as a symbol of the country’s industrialization process in the twentieth century. Founded on April 9, 1941 by a decree of Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas, CSN started its operations on October 1, 1946, at a site bordering the Paraíba do Sul River in the current city of Volta Redonda, in the south of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Initially, the company produced coke, cast pig iron, and long products (Bedê, 2004; Lima, 2010). The decision to build the mill in the region was related to its equidistance from the leading consumer centers in the country (Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo), concentrating half of Brazil’s GDP. Volta Redonda was a living laboratory from the Vargas period (1930–1945), where the government experimented with theories about driving the country’s economic development. The company, over the past 70 years, has attracted many suppliers and service providers to the region. Comprehensive services and educational sectors have been developed to provide trained people and expertise. These create a dynamic of regional development (Lima, 2010). The privatization processin the nineties and the new private managementredirected the company’s strategy and reconfigured the set of relationships along the production chains (Santos, 2010; Lima, 2010; Fagundes, Garcia, Motta, & Armond-de-Melo, 2014; Fagundes, Ferreira, Motta, & Leal Junior, 2016). Some works have identified a loss in the regional development dynamic (Ferreira, 2012; Monteiro & Lima, 2015). Others have indicated the maturing process of Brazilian capitalism and the transformation of CSN into a global player (Amaral, Motta, Lima, Fagundes, & Schocair, 2016). Thus, the object of this paper is to analyze the economic development of the Middle Paraíba do Sul Valley Region (MPRRJ, an abbreviation created by Ferreira, 2012). There are many ways to do that, but it was choosen discuss the trajectory of the key company. Other works have made a similar effort, looking at the region (Amaral, Ferreira, & Teodoro, 2011; Ferreira, 2012; Lima, 2010) and aspects of CSN’s trajectory (Amaral et al., 2016; Bedê, 2004; Fagundes et al., 2014, 2016; Santos, 2010).