Putting Porter into Practice? Practices of Regional Cluster Building: Evidence from Sweden
In the last decade there has been an increased interest in the cluster approach as a tool for boosting regional competitiveness. In this article practices and processes of regional cluster building in Sweden are examined in order to better understand the key traits that seem to be common to successful regional cluster initiatives. It is argued that regional cluster building may be formed through long running policy processes that are crucially constituted by public and private actors' collective vision of what cluster policy involves and what a cluster can look like. Results from a study of 13 cluster initiatives in Sweden are presented. Out of these, four key examples are presented in detail to illustrate four distinct 'models' of cluster approaches that emerged: (a) industry-led initiatives to build competitiveness and competence within an existing base; (b) top-down public policy exercises in brand-building; (c) visionary projects to produce an industry cluster from 'thin air'; (d) small scale, geographically dispersed, natural resource based, temporal clusters that link or dip into global rather than national systems, sources of innovation and competitive advantage. The article closes with the presentation of a checklist of some common elements that successful cluster initiatives in Sweden have shared. It is hoped that they may trigger further research or be useful to policy-makers working in the area. It is concluded that though many questions and problems persist over the use of the cluster-approach it can be a useful tool for regional development.
Volume (Year): 10 (2002)
Issue (Month): 6 (September)
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