Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Chapter 6: Clusters Formation from the ‘Bottom-Up’: A Process Perspective
Andrew Atherton and Andrew Johnston 1 From ‘top-down’ to ‘bottom-up’ considerations of clusters formation Clusters and related forms of inter-ﬁrm collaboration and networking have been a particular focus of regional, and national, policy and economic strategy over the last few decades. The identiﬁcation of ‘industrial districts’ of innovative ﬁrms generating local wealth creation and high levels of exports in Northern Italy oﬀered the possibility that regional prosperity was underpinned by high levels of ﬂexible specialization (Beccatini, 1990; Brusco, 1982; Lazerson, 1995; Nadvi & Schmitz, 1994; Pyke et al., 1990). Speciﬁc cases of local economies driven by the exploitation of knowledge and invention in technology-driven ﬁrms operating within localized networks, and in particular ‘success stories’ such as Silicon Valley, Highway 128 and Cambridge, provided examples of the potential of clusters to contribute to economic growth and development (Castells, 1996; Cooke & Morgan, 1998; Porter, 1998; Saxenian, 1994; Segal Quince Wicksteed, 2000; Storper & Scott, 1995). Support for the notion of clusters as a means of developing economic competitiveness and growth has come from academic studies and parts of the research community (e.g. Porter, 1990, 1998; Rosenfeld, 1995). As noted by Cooke and Morgan (1998, p. 185), academic support for the notion of clusters provided a compelling rationale for the adoption and development of clusters strategies in many regions, based particularly on the work of Porter (1990). The promise of clusters as an economic and regional development strategy has not, however, translated into successful practice and policy in many nations and...
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