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The Birth and the Rise of the Cluster Concept


  • Luciana Lazzeretti

    (University of Firenze)

  • Silvia Rita Sedita

    () (University of Padova)

  • Annalisa Caloffi

    () (University of Padova)


Why has the cluster concept proved so successful in this millennium? Which are the authors, the scientific areas, and journals that have helped to enliven the debate in this era, characterized by the transition from a solid modernity to a liquid modernity, as the well-known sociologist Zygmunt Bauman would say? With this work, we have aimed to answer these research questions by adopting an evolutionary approach. By means of a bibliometric analysis based on descriptive statistics and social network analysis tools, we have identified the founders and the main disseminators of the cluster concept across time. The point of departure is an original database, created by the authors, consisting of 1586 academic articles about industrial clusters that have been published from 1989 to 2010 in international scientific journals (source: ISI Web of Science). Our claim is that the Porterian contribution on clusters opens up a global debate over a concept that was Òin the airÓ many years before. The cluster concept is rooted in the Marshallian tradition, and is strongly related to the Italian and European literature, which is more familiar with the narrower concept of the industrial district. By relaxing some of the specific features that characterized the industrial district model, a more inclusive concept is promoted, which, in a prey-predator relationship, assimilates previous contributions. By now, the cluster concept has gained international recognition and been constantly sustained by a theoretical discussion that encompasses a variety of disciplines and approaches. Our evidence shows that this success can be attributed basically to the liquid properties we have identified: multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary qualities and global dimension.

Suggested Citation

  • Luciana Lazzeretti & Silvia Rita Sedita & Annalisa Caloffi, 2012. "The Birth and the Rise of the Cluster Concept," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0144, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  • Handle: RePEc:pad:wpaper:0144

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    Cited by:

    1. Godfrey MUPONDA & Isaac CHANETA, 2014. "Are Small-Firm Clusters Emergent Phenomena? Evidence From Zimbabwe’S Small Furniture- Manufacturing Firms," EcoForum, "Stefan cel Mare" University of Suceava, Romania, Faculty of Economics and Public Administration - Economy, Business Administration and Tourism Department., vol. 3(2), pages 1-6, July.
    2. Nicola Bellini & Jukka Teras & Hakan Ylinenpaa, 2012. "Science and Technology Parks in the Age of Open Innovation. The Finnish Case," Symphonya. Emerging Issues in Management, University of Milano-Bicocca, issue 1 Innovat, pages 25-44.

    More about this item


    cluster; industrial districts; liquid modernity; bibliometric analysis; co-citation analysis.;

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics

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