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Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Chapter 21: Clusters, innovation systems and biotechnology in developing country agriculture
Industry clusters have historically played a central role in economic growth and development - a point that was initially recognized by Adam Smith ( 1993) and expanded on by economists and historians ever since. Clusters are highly interdependent production and distribution networks that are populated by specialized firms and allied business services and are concentrated across a geographical or thematic dimension. Clusters are often driven by strategic alliances between private firms or non-commercial or quasi-commercial actors such as universities, public research organizations, technology transfer programs, knowledge brokers and other similar agents. In effect, a cluster is a concentration of enterprises that generates collective efficiencies or 'agglomeration effects' by leveraging complementarities, economies of scope and scale, technology spillovers and other efficiency gains and positive externalities (Porter, 2000; Schmitz and Nadvi, 1999; Schmitz, 1995). Theoretical and empirical inquiries into clusters cover a range of topics, including the conceptualization and measurement of net gains from labor pooling, technology spillovers and market access (Krugman, 1991); division of production tasks and reductions in capital barriers to entry through intra-industry credit linkages (Ruan and Zhang, 2009); accumulation and application of appropriate technologies (CaniÎls and Romijn, 2003); spillovers of complex, tacit knowledge between firms (Cohen and Levinthal, 1989); spillovers that are external to firms and appropriable by individuals (Audretsch, 1998); and cluster-based firm-level learning modalities (Parrilli and Asheim, 2012).
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