Opportunities for Development of Clusters in the Czech Republic
The aim of this paper is to analyse the question of clusters in the Czech Republic. Clusters have been recently identified by public bodies as a useful measures for supporting regional competitiveness. What has been done so far and based on which theoretical approaches? How to procede in future? Which are the possibilities for clusters in the Czech Republic? The theoretical approach is based on the “diamond” of Michael Porter and on his definition saying that clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular field that are present in a nation or region. Clusters can be viewed in a wider or narrower context. In the first case, all linkages among businesses that arose naturally and do not have any institutionalised structures can be considered a cluster. In our view, it is possible to find examples of such clusters in the Czech Republic, for example in the automotive industry. Under the second approach a cluster is an organised network of enterprises and other entities, such as research institutions and academic bodies. In such case the cluster has a central body which is organising and managing the economic activities inside the network. There is one example of this cluster in the Czech Republic – the so called Moravian-Silesian Engineering Cluster. This cluster is a rather specific case because the industries in this network have been undergoing the process of restructuralisation. Based on this picture, it can be stated that clusters are not particulary present in the Czech economy. But recently the development of clusters has been strongly supported by the official authorities in the Czech Republic and has become one of the instruments of regional policy. Not only after EU accession but even before, EU funds have been used to push the creation of organised clusters. For example the feasibility study of the Moravian-Silesian cluster was financed from the programme Phare. In 2004 a programme “Clusters” has been launche as part of the Operational Programme “Industry and Enterprise” for the EU Regional Policy planning period 2004-2006. The questions that arise and that we are dealing with in our paper are the following: supporting the development of clustres – is it a good way how to face regional underdevelopment in the Czech Republic? Which industries should be supported? And do we have the right mechanism to be able to identify vital industries? Is it actually possible to develop vital and functioning clusters in this artificial way?
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