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Do clusters follow the industry life cycle? An exploratory meta-study of Basque clusters from the 1970s to 2008


  • Jesús M. Valdaliso
  • Aitziber Elola


  • Susana Franco
  • Santiago López


Although clusters life cycles tend to co-evolve with the life cycle of its dominant industry (Bergman, 2008; Menzel and Fornahl, 2010), the stylized life cycle model does not capture the full complexity of cluster evolution (Martin and Sunley, 2011). Empirical studies indicate that clusters do not necessarily follow the life cycles of their dominant industries, as different clusters that belong to the same industry life cycle follow different evolutionary paths (Saxenian, 1994). Thus, clusters are not just a local representation of an industry and local peculiarities also matter for the evolution of a particular cluster (Menzel and Fornahl, 2010). Empirical studies have pointed out that local factors such as factor endowment, entrepreneurship and firms' capabilities, an existing market, or institutions and social capital may have an impact on it (Belussi and Sedita, 2009; Elola et al., 2012). The Basque Country is an old industrialized European region that successfully managed to escape from a lock-in situation in the 1980s renewing its industrial base by upgrading some of its mature clusters and by promoting new high tech ones. Based on the experience of the Basque Country, in this paper, we aim at analyzing whether clusters co-evolve with their corresponding industry or deviate from it. In addition, we also study which are the local factors that explain such behaviors. For that purpose, we draw on a meta-study of six clusters of the Basque Country: papermaking, maritime industries, machine-tools, electronics and ICTs, aeronautics and energy. References BELUSSI, R. and SEDITA, C. (2009) Life Cycle vs. Multiple Path Dependency in Industrial Districts, European Planning Studies, 17, 4, pp. 505-528. BERGMAN, E. M. (2008) Cluster life-cycles: an emerging synthesis, in C. KARLSSON (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Cluster Theory, Edward Elgar: Cheltenham. ELOLA, A., VALDALISO, J. M., ARANGUREN, M. J., and LÓPEZ, S. (2012) Cluster Life Cycles, Path Dependency and Regional Economic Development. Insights from a Meta-Study on Basque Clusters, European Planning Studies, 20, 2, 257-279. MARTIN, R., and SUNLEY, P. (2011) Conceptualizing Cluster Evolution: Beyond the Life Cycle Model, Regional Studies, 45, 10, 1299-1318. MENZEL, P., and FORNAHL, D. (2010) Cluster life cycles - dimensions and rationales of cluster evolution, Industrial and Corporate Change 19, 1: 205-238. SAXENIAN, A. (1994) Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128. Harvard University Press: Cambridge.

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  • Jesús M. Valdaliso & Aitziber Elola & Susana Franco & Santiago López, 2013. "Do clusters follow the industry life cycle? An exploratory meta-study of Basque clusters from the 1970s to 2008," ERSA conference papers ersa13p56, European Regional Science Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p56

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2006. "Path dependence and regional economic evolution," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(4), pages 395-437, August.
    2. Ron Martin & Peter Sunley, 2011. "Conceptualizing Cluster Evolution: Beyond the Life Cycle Model?," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(10), pages 1299-1318, November.
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    More about this item


    Clusters; Industrialization;

    JEL classification:

    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O25 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Industrial Policy
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy


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