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Planning for Path Dependence? The Case of a Network in the Berlin-Brandenburg Optics Cluster


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  • Jörg Sydow
  • Frank Lerch
  • Udo Staber
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    Much research on regional business clusters refers to path dependence as a central feature in the evolution of cluster structures. In many cases, however, little is known about the agentic processes and mechanisms that underlie path dependence. In this article, we explore changes in a specific network in the optics cluster in the German region of Berlin-Brandenburg to show that development of clusters can be driven by elements of both emergence and planning. In particular, we argue that current actors actively and purposively draw upon rules and resources that were shaped not only in the long and discontinuous history of the cluster but also in the recent process of network development that involves careful planning and well-structured planning tools. Using central concepts from structuration theory, we show how agency is implicated in the coordination of the network and how agency turns coordination into a self-reinforcing mechanism. The findings suggest that purposive planning involves a fundamental ambivalence in the processes and outcomes of path dependence, at the level of both the cluster and its constituent networks. Copyright (c) 2010 Clark University.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Clark University in its journal Economic Geography.

    Volume (Year): 86 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (04)
    Pages: 173-195

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:ecgeog:v:86:y:2010:i:2:p:173-195

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    Cited by:
    1. Stephen Roper & James H. Love & Ying Zhou, 2014. "Knowledge context, learning and innovation: an integrating framework," Research Papers, University of Warwick, Warwick Business School, Enterprise Research Centre 0020, University of Warwick, Warwick Business School, Enterprise Research Centre.
    2. Martin Henning & Erik Stam & Rik Wenting, 2012. "Path dependence research in regional economic development: Cacophony or knowledge accumulation?," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG), Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography 1219, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Oct 2012.
    3. Joerg Sydow & Arnold Windeler & Gordon Müller-Seitz & Knut Lange, 2012. "Path Constitution Analysis: A Methodology for Understanding Path Dependence and Path Creation," BuR - Business Research, German Academic Association for Business Research, German Academic Association for Business Research, vol. 5(2), pages 155-176, November.
    4. Leonhard Dobusch & Elke Schü�ler, 2013. "Theorizing path dependence: a review of positive feedback mechanisms in technology markets, regional clusters, and organizations," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 617-647, June.
    5. Dorota Leszczynska, 2014. "L’impact de l’énergie relationnelle sur la trajectoire historique. Bilan 2007- 2013 des études d’un cluster," Working Papers, Department of Research, Ipag Business School 2014-277, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    6. Manning, Stephan, 2013. "New Silicon Valleys or a new species? Commoditization of knowledge work and the rise of knowledge services clusters," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 379-390.
    7. Dorota Leszczynska, 2014. "Historical Trajectory and Knowledge Embeddedness: A Case Study in the French Perfume Cluster," Working Papers, Department of Research, Ipag Business School 2014-268, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    8. Peng-Fei Li & Harald Bathelt & Jici Wang, 2012. "Network dynamics and cluster evolution: changing trajectories of the aluminium extrusion industry in Dali, China," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 127-155, January.
    9. Muhamed Kudic & Andreas Pyka & Marco Sunder, 2013. "Network Formation: R&D Cooperation Propensity and Timing Among German Laser Source Manufacturers," IWH Discussion Papers, Halle Institute for Economic Research 9, Halle Institute for Economic Research.


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