Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Robert Stimson
Chapter 18: Spatial clustering: issues and methods for identifying industry clusters
It is common among researchers who conduct quantitative analysis when taking a spatially integrated approach to the investigation of social and economic phenomena to focus on the nature and degree of spatial clustering that has evolved and is evident in such phenomena. This chapter uses the example of how researchers in regional science (as well as some other disciplines in the social sciences) have become interested in identifying, describing, mapping and investigating the structural and dynamic characteristics of industrial clusters in the investigation of regional economies. The focus is on methodological approaches that are used in research, including visualization techniques, which are viewed as fundamental to understanding clusters, communicating cluster information, and advising cluster-related public policy and planning. The focus here is on the issues of identifying dominant industry clusters, their spatial extent, their levels of propulsiveness, other dynamics and interdependence. The chapter is organized as follows. The next section provides a brief discussion of the context for the interest in industrial clusters. The following section focuses on measurement of the geographic boundaries and areal location of clusters. The chapter then deals with the measurement of the spatial distribution of cluster organizations. The focus then turns to measures of the structural properties of clusters and policy guidelines. The chapter then presents a methodology for determining what part of the life-cycle a cluster is in and the related policy guidelines. In each section the emphasis is placed not only on measurement but also on visualizing measured outcomes.
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