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What qualifies as a cluster theory?

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  • Peter Maskell
  • Leïla Kebir

Abstract

This paper investigates the theoretical backgrounds of the “cluster” and proposes a framework aiming at drawing the contour of cluster theory. The profundity of the notion of ‘clusters’ is arguably conditional on the coherence of three fundamental issues associated with the concept: 1) the economic and social benefits that may accrue to firms when clustering or co-locating (the existence argument); 2) the diseconomies encountered when clustering exceeds certain geographical and sectoral thresholds (the extension argument); and, finally, 3) the possible erosion of economies and onset of diseconomies over the lifecycle of the cluster (the exhaustion argument). Each of these three issues is examined in terms of three relevant major theoretical frameworks that can be brought to bear on the cluster concept. The paper considers approaches based on the idea of externalities (illustrated by the Marshall's work on ‘Industrial district’); on competitiveness issue (illustrated by Michael Porter’s theory of cluster growth); on a territorial perspective (illustrated by the GREMI approach). The paper acknowledges the general shift in explanatory emphasis from considerations of static cost efficiency towards more dynamic interpretations that highlight the creation and use of knowledge as their pivotal theoretical element. By placing these changes within a common conceptual framework the paper shows how different theoretical solutions provide distinct points of departure for subsequent policy recommendations. Three distinctive groups of solutions are identified focusing respectively on local spillovers, on competitiveness and on the region and its development. The paper concludes by identifying areas of particular ambiguity where further theoretical work is most urgently needed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 05-09.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:05-09

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Related research

Keywords: Cluster; cluster theory; industrial district; innovative milieu; regional policy;

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References

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  1. Stefano Breschi, 2000. "The Geography of Innovation: A Cross-sector Analysis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(3), pages 213-229.
  2. Maskell, Peter & Malmberg, Anders, 1999. "Localised Learning and Industrial Competitiveness," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 167-85, March.
  3. Glenn Ellison & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," NBER Working Papers 4840, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Richardson, G B, 1972. "The Organisation of Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 82(327), pages 883-96, September.
  5. Harald Bathelt & Andersand Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "Clusters and Knowledge Local Buzz, Global Pipelines and the Process of Knowledge Creation," DRUID Working Papers 02-12, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  6. Brusco, Sebastiano, 1982. "The Emilian Model: Productive Decentralisation and Social Integration," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 167-84, June.
  7. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2002. "Deconstructing Clusters: Chaotic Concept or Policy Panacea," ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers wp244, ESRC Centre for Business Research.
  8. Anders Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "The elusive concept of localization economies: towards a knowledge-based theory of spatial clustering," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 34(3), pages 429-449, March.
  9. Maskell, Peter, 2001. "Towards a Knowledge-Based Theory of the Geographical Cluster," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(4), pages 921-43, December.
  10. Frank Moulaert & Farid Sekia, 2003. "Territorial Innovation Models: A Critical Survey," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 289-302.
  11. Gioacchino Garofoli, 1993. "Economic development, organization of production and territory," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 64(1), pages 22-37.
  12. Brian J. Loasby, 2001. "Organisation as Interpretative Systems," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 97(1), pages 17-34.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Steiner, Bodo & Ali, Jolene, 2009. "Regional food clusters and government support for clustering: Evidence for a ‘dynamic food innovation cluster’ in Alberta, Canada?," MPRA Paper 26251, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Arthur Huang & David Levinson, 2008. "An agent-based retail location model on a supply chain network," Working Papers 000037, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  3. Cristina Santos & Alexandre Almeida & Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2008. "Searching for clusters in tourism. A quantitative methodological proposal," FEP Working Papers 293, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  4. Edward M. Bergman, 2007. "Cluster Life-Cycles: An Emerging Synthesis," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2007_04, Institute for the Environment and Regional Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
  5. Wixted, Brian, 2006. "Cluster Complexes: A Framework for Understanding the Internationalisation of Innovation Systems," MPRA Paper 846, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Fiorenza Belussi & Silvia R. Sedita, 2012. "Industrial Districts as Open Learning Systems: Combining Emergent and Deliberate Knowledge Structures," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 165-184, April.
  7. Andrea GANZAROLI & Gianluca FISCATO & Luciano PILOTTI, 2006. "Does business succession enhance firms? innovation capacity? Results from an exploratory analysis in Italian SMEs," Departmental Working Papers 2006-29, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  8. Koschatzky, Knut & Lo, Vivien, 2007. "Methodological framework for cluster analyses," Working Papers "Firms and Region" R1/2007, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
  9. M. Nicotra & M. Romano & M. Giudice, 2014. "The Evolution Dynamic of a Cluster Knowledge Network: the Role of Firms' Absorptive Capacity," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 70-93, March.
  10. Sara C. Santos Cruz & Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2007. "A new look into the evolution of clusters literature. A bibliometric exercise," FEP Working Papers 257, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  11. Joana Almodovar & Aurora A.C. Teixeira, 2009. "Conceptualizing clusters through the lens of networks: a critical synthesis," FEP Working Papers 328, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  12. Sara Cruz & Aurora Teixeira, 2010. "The Evolution of the Cluster Literature: Shedding Light on the Regional Studies-Regional Science Debate," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(9), pages 1263-1288.
  13. M. Nicotra & M. Romano & M. Giudice, 2014. "The Evolution Dynamic of a Cluster Knowledge Network: The Role of Firms’ Absorptive Capacity," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 240-264, June.
  14. Mario A. Maggioni & T. Erika Uberti & Francesca Gambarotto, 2009. "Mapping the Evolution of "Clusters": A Meta-analysis," Working Papers 2009.74, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  15. Pedro Valadas Monteiro & Teresa de Noronha & Paulo Neto, 2011. "The Importance of Clusters for Sustainable Innovation Processes: The Context of Small and Medium Sized Regions," CEFAGE-UE Working Papers 2011_24, University of Evora, CEFAGE-UE (Portugal).
  16. María Eugenia Morales Rubiano & Sonia Esperanza Sanabria Aguirre, 2010. "Acumulación de Conocimiento, Innovación y Competitividad en Aglomeraciones Empresariales," REVISTA FACULTAD DE CIENCIAS ECONÓMICAS, UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA.
  17. Anastasiia Konstantynova & James Wilson, . "Comparing Cluster Policies: An Analytical Framework," Working Papers 2014R01, Basque Institute of Competitiveness.

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