IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Elusive Concept of Localization Economies: Towards a Knowledge-Based Theory of Spatial Clustering


  • Anders Malmberg

    (Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University, PO Box 513, S-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden)

  • Peter Maskell

    (Danish Research Unit for Industrial Dynamics (DRUID), Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy (IVS), Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Howitzvej 60, DK-2000 Frederiksberg C, Denmark and Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), Langelinie Allé 17, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark)


A number of possible advantages of industry agglomeration—or spatial clustering—have been identified in the research literature, notably those related to shared costs for infrastructure, the build-up of a skilled labour force, transaction efficiency, and knowledge spillovers leading to firm learning and innovation. We identify two shortcomings of existing research on the clustering phenomenon. First, the abundance of theoretical concepts and explanations stands in sharp contrast with the general lack of work aimed at validating these mechanisms empirically and the contradictory evidence found in recent empirical work in the field. Second, there is still a lack of a unified theoretical framework for analyzing spatial clustering. In an attempt to remedy the latter shortcoming, this paper investigates the nature of the cluster from a knowledge-creation or learning perspective. We argue for the need to establish a specific theory of the cluster where learning occupies centre stage. The basic requirements for such a theory of the cluster are discussed. Two main components of such a theory are identified: it must explain the existence of the cluster on the one hand and its internal organization on the other.

Suggested Citation

  • Anders Malmberg & Peter Maskell, 2002. "The Elusive Concept of Localization Economies: Towards a Knowledge-Based Theory of Spatial Clustering," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 34(3), pages 429-449, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:34:y:2002:i:3:p:429-449

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:34:y:2002:i:3:p:429-449. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.