Chapter 8: Theory, Methods and a Cross-Metropolitan Comparison of Business Clustering
8. Theory, methods and a crossmetropolitan comparison of business clustering Edward J. Feser and Stuart H. Sweeney University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA and University of California at Santa Barbara, USA INTRODUCTION The notion that interﬁrm proximity confers important advantages of cost, productivity, ﬂexibility, learning, and innovation is postulated in a variety of literatures, from the parsimonious spatial equilibrium tradition of regional scientists to the contextual and place-speciﬁc analyses of geographers studying new industrial districts, ﬂexible specialization, post-Fordist accumulation regimes, and the innovative milieu. Management specialists and students of industrial organization have also explored the strategic implications of business clustering (for example Porter, 1990, 1998, 2000), while initiatives designed to take advantage of existing or emerging clusters are the subject of intense interest among local and regional policy-makers in the USA and Europe (Held, 1996; Jacobs and de Man, 1996; Rosenfeld, 1997; Roelandt and den Hertog, 1999; Hill and Brennan, 2000). Recent economic trends raise important questions about possible changing patterns in business clustering. The 1990s have witnessed signiﬁcant shifts in the way companies do business and create value (Friedman, 1999). Information technologies have permitted the scaling back of costly procedures designed to compensate for imperfect intelligence regarding the delivery and quality of supplies, shifts in demand for core products, and the changing tastes of consumers (Lundvall, 1999). Indeed, innovations in the way information is managed and distributed are believed to be a key factor in the period of sustained growth and low inﬂation...
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