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Beyond Apprenticeship: Knowledge Brokers and Sustainability of Apprentice-Based Clusters

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  • Huasheng Zhu

    () (School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Beijing 100875, China)

  • Kelly Wanjing Chen

    () (Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 550 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA)

  • Juncheng Dai

    () (School of Culture and Communication & Cultural Economics Research Institute, Central University of Finance and Economics, 39 South College Road, Beijing 100081, China)

Abstract

Knowledge learning and diffusion have long been discussed in the literature on the dynamics of industrial clusters, but recent literature provides little evidence for how different actors serve as knowledge brokers in the upgrading process of apprentice-based clusters, and does not dynamically consider how to preserve the sustainability of these clusters. This paper uses empirical evidence from an antique furniture manufacturing cluster in Xianyou, Fujian Province, in southeastern China, to examine the growth trajectory of the knowledge learning system of an antique furniture manufacturing cluster. It appears that the apprentice-based learning system is crucial during early stages of the cluster evolution, but later becomes complemented and relatively substituted by the role of both local governments and focal outsiders. This finding addresses the context of economic transformation and provides empirical insights into knowledge acquisition in apprentice-based clusters to question the rationality based on European and North American cases, and to provide a broader perspective for policy makers to trigger and sustain the development of apprentice-based clusters.

Suggested Citation

  • Huasheng Zhu & Kelly Wanjing Chen & Juncheng Dai, 2016. "Beyond Apprenticeship: Knowledge Brokers and Sustainability of Apprentice-Based Clusters," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(12), pages 1-17, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:12:p:1279-:d:84629
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    local learning; knowledge brokers; apprentice-based clusters; antique furniture manufacturing; China;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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