The determinants of science-based cluster growth: the case of nanotechnology
There are growing academic and policy interests in the factors that underpin the formation and growth of clusters, especially in such ‘hyped-up’ scientific and technological fields as the nanotechnologies. With this paper we analyzes the determinants of scientific cluster growth (measured by the number of publications emanating from them), distinguishing between structural effects (ie, initial cluster size, scientific field composition, and geographic location), on the one hand and scientific variety, organizational diversity, and degree of openness (in terms of collaboration with outside actors), on the other. Overall, scientific variety enhances cluster growth, but organizational diversity, slows it down. However, patterns of growth are different in Asia, Europe, and North America, and it seems that cluster evolution is highly contingent on national systems of innovation and on the history of collaboration amongst local actors. Policy makers and cluster strategists must design specific policies according to location and should not simply attempt to replicate best practices from one zone to another. Slow growth may also reflect ‘elitist’ strategies—those based on quality rather than on numbers.
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