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Deconstructing Clusters: Chaotic Concept or Policy Panacea

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  • Ron Martin
  • Peter Sunley

Abstract

Recently there has been growing interest in local industrial agglomeration and specialisation, by economic geographers, economists and policy-makers. Michael Porter's work on 'clusters' has proved by far the most influential to have emerged. His 'cluster theory' has become the standard concept in the field, and policy-makers worldwide have seized upon it as a tool for promoting national, regional and local competitiveness, innovation and growth. However, seductive though the cluster concept is, there is much about it that is problematic, and the rush to employ 'cluster ideas' has run ahead of many fundamental conceptual, theoretical and empirical questions. Our aim is to deconstruct the cluster concept in order to reveal and highlight our concerns relating to the definition of the cluster concept, its theorisation, its empirics, the claims made for its benefits and advantages, and its use in policy-making.

Suggested Citation

  • Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2002. "Deconstructing Clusters: Chaotic Concept or Policy Panacea," Working Papers wp244, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp244
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