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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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jörg Sydow & Frank Lerch & Udo Staber, 2010. "Planning for Path Dependence? The Case of a Network in the Berlin-Brandenburg Optics Cluster," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 86(2), pages 173-195, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecgeog:v:86:y:2010:i:2:p:173-195
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Manning, Stephan, 2013. "New Silicon Valleys or a new species? Commoditization of knowledge work and the rise of knowledge services clusters," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 379-390.
    2. 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, vol. 12(1), pages 127-155, January.
    3. Kudic, Muhamed & Pyka, Andreas & Sunder, Marco, 2013. "Network Formation: R&D Cooperation Propensity and Timing Among German Laser Source Manufacturers," IWH Discussion Papers 9/2013, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    4. Luciana Lazzeretti & Francesco Capone, 2017. "The transformation of the Prato industrial district: an organisational ecology analysis of the co-evolution of Italian and Chinese firms," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 58(1), pages 135-158, January.
    5. Leonhard Dobusch & Elke Schüßler, 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.
    6. Dorota Leszczyńska, 2014. "L’impact de l’énergie relationnelle sur la trajectoire historique. Bilan 2007- 2013 des études d’un cluster," Working Papers 2014-277, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    7. Dorota Leszczyńska, 2014. "Historical Trajectory and Knowledge Embeddedness: A Case Study in the French Perfume Cluster," Working Papers 2014-268, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    8. Stuart Dawley, 2014. "Creating New Paths? Offshore Wind, Policy Activism, and Peripheral Region Development," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 90(1), pages 91-112, January.
    9. Vissers Geert & Dankbaar Ben, 2013. "Path dependence and path plasticity: textile cities in the Netherlands," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, De Gruyter, vol. 57(1-2), pages 83-95, October.
    10. repec:enr:rpaper:0020 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Shengjun Zhu & Canfei He & Yi Zhou, 2015. "How to jump further? Path dependent and path breaking in an uneven industry space," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1524, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Jul 2015.
    12. Martin Henning & Erik Stam & Rik Wenting, 2013. "Path Dependence Research in Regional Economic Development: Cacophony or Knowledge Accumulation?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(8), pages 1348-1362, September.
    13. Miörner, Johan & Trippl, Michaela, 2016. "Paving the way for new regional industrial paths: Actors of change in Scania’s games industry," Papers in Innovation Studies 2016/19, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
    14. Andy Pike & Andrew Cumbers & Stuart Dawley & Danny MacKinnon & Robert McMaster, 2015. "Doing evolution in economic geography," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1532, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Sep 2015.

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