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Spinoff and Clustering: a return to the Marshallian district

Listed author(s):
  • Lucia Cusmano
  • Andrea Morrison
  • Enrico Pandolfo

The origin and growth of industrial clusters have attracted the attention of scholars and policy makers since the early era of industrialisation. The seminal work by Alfred Marshall has represented the foundation for a rich strand of literature, whose late expansion and refinement were inspired by the experiences of localised development in emerging regions. This is the case of Italian industrial districts, which have emerged as a territorial model of industrial agglomeration, decentralised production and flexible specialisation. Recently, the traditional explananda of the emergence of clusters have been reconsidered. The evidence about the growth of clusters in areas that did not have obvious natural advantages, nor the first comers’ benefits of early agglomeration economies, has inspired a different conceptualisation, which draws consistently from the evolutionary perspective on industrial dynamics. Klepper (2001, 2010) shows that more successful firms have higher spin-off rates and their spin-offs tend to outperform competitors. Organizational reproduction and heredity are thus identified as the primary forces underlying clustering. The present paper investigates the emergence and evolution of an Italian industrial district, the Sassuolo tile district, one of the largest and most successful ceramic districts in the world, and a paradigmatic example of Italian Marshallian district. Overall, our findings confirm that organizational reproduction and heredity represent primary mechanisms of clustering. However, our results also show that spin-offs do not perform better than non-spin-offs. It appears that, in dense industrial environments and social networks, competitive advantages can also be acquired or built through other channels.

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File URL: http://econ.geo.uu.nl/peeg/peeg1416.pdf
File Function: Version July 2014
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Paper provided by Utrecht University, Section of Economic Geography in its series Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) with number 1416.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2014
Date of revision: Jul 2014
Handle: RePEc:egu:wpaper:1416
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  1. Klepper, Steven, 2010. "The origin and growth of industry clusters: The making of Silicon Valley and Detroit," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 15-32, January.
  2. Iammarino, Simona & McCann, Philip, 2006. "The structure and evolution of industrial clusters: Transactions, technology and knowledge spillovers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1018-1036, September.
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  5. Ron Boschma & Dirk Fornahl, 2011. "Cluster Evolution and a Roadmap for Future Research," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(10), pages 1295-1298, November.
  6. Maskell, Peter & Malmberg, Anders, 1999. "Localised Learning and Industrial Competitiveness," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 167-185, March.
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  8. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
  9. Lucia Cusmano & Maria Luisa Mancusi & Andrea Morrison, 2010. "Globalization of Production and Innovation: How Outsourcing is Reshaping an Advanced Manufacturing Area," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 235-252.
  10. Lazerson, Mark H & Lorenzoni, Gianni, 1999. "The Firms That Feed Industrial Districts: A Return to the Italian," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 235-266, June.
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  12. David, Paul A. & Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1990. "Marshallian factor market externalities and the dynamics of industrial localization," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 349-370, November.
  13. Glaeser, Edward L & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1126-1152, December.
    • Edward L. Glaeser & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1991. "Growth in Cities," NBER Working Papers 3787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. von Hippel, Eric, 1987. "Cooperation between rivals: Informal know-how trading," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 291-302, December.
  15. Rachel Hilliard & David Jacobson, 2011. "Cluster versus Firm-specific Factors in the Development of Dynamic Capabilities in the Pharmaceutical Industry in Ireland: A Study of Responses to Changes in Environmental Protection Regulations," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(10), pages 1319-1328, November.
  16. Klepper, Steven & Thompson, Peter, 2010. "Disagreements and intra-industry spinoffs," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 526-538, September.
  17. Russo, Margherita, 1985. "Technical change and the industrial district: The role of interfirm relations in the growth and transformation of ceramic tile production in Italy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 329-343, December.
  18. Brusco, Sebastiano, 1982. "The Emilian Model: Productive Decentralisation and Social Integration," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 167-184, June.
  19. Gerben van der Panne & Cees van Beers, 2006. "On the Marshall - Jacobs Controversy It takes two to tango," DRUID Working Papers 06-23, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  20. Gerben van der Panne & Cees van Beers, 2006. "On the Marshall--Jacobs controversy: it takes two to tango," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(5), pages 877-890, October.
  21. Klepper, Steven, 2001. "Employee Startups in High-Tech Industries," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 639-674, September.
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