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The Pitfalls and Booby Traps of Cluster Policy

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  • Gunther Maier

    ()

  • Michaela Trippl

    ()

Abstract

Over the past two decades, cluster policies have become a standard instrument of public authorities and economic development practitioners in many parts of the world. This paper takes a critical stance on this phenomenon and provides theoretical arguments that challenge the widespread application of cluster initiatives to promote long-term regional development. We distinguish between and compare two main bodies of thought: the neoclassical view and the agglomeration view. We show that there are no rationales for cluster policy from the perspective of neoclassical theory. The agglomeration view, in contrast, provides a convincing conceptual basis for justifying economic policies implemented in form of cluster initiatives. At the same time, however, it points to major problems related with the cluster policy approach. We identify and elaborate on three essential difficulties, i.e. the proper (1) targeting, (2) dosing, and (3) timing of cluster policy actions. We highlight that the problems related with these fundamental issues of each public initiative constitute powerful pitfalls and booby traps of cluster policies.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Environment and Regional Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business in its series SRE-Disc with number sre-disc-2012_01.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwsre:sre-disc-2012_01

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  1. Starrett, David, 1978. "Market allocations of location choice in a model with free mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 21-37, February.
  2. Anne ter Wal & Ron A. Boschma, 2007. "Co-evolution of firms, industries and networks in space," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 0707, Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography, revised Aug 2007.
  3. Andaç T. Arıkan & Melissa A. Schilling, 2011. "Structure and Governance in Industrial Districts: Implications for Competitive Advantage," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(4), pages 772-803, 06.
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