Handbook of Research on Cluster Theory

Handbook of Research on Cluster Theory

Handbooks of Research on Clusters series

Edited by Charlie Karlsson

Clusters have increasingly dominated local and regional development policies in recent decades and the growing intellectual and political interest for clusters and clustering is the prime motivation for this Handbook. Charlie Karlsson unites leading experts to present a thorough overview of economic cluster research.

Chapter 8: Clustering in Space versus Dispersing over Space

Karen R. Polenske

Subjects: economics and finance, regional economics, urban and regional studies, clusters, regional economics


1 Karen R. Polenske 8.1 Introduction In a previous study (Polenske, 2001b), I have maintained that assets should form the base of a regional economic-development strategy, where assets include both tangible (e.g., physical infrastructure) and intangible (e.g., skills and knowledge) ones. I laid out the underlying institutional, economic and physical factors needed to have successful development. In this chapter, I analyse regional economic development from a different, but related, perspective to examine the role played by economies of scale and innovation in making regions competitive and to help make regional economic development sustainable. I hypothesize that two types of economies of scale may enhance regional economic growth. The first type is the well known ‘agglomeration economies’. The second type is ‘dispersion economies’, a concept that I first introduced in an earlier paper (Polenske, 2001a). Other analysts either have dealt with this concept only indirectly in their discussions of the grouping and dispersing of economic activities, or they have used it in a different sense than I use the term here. Storper (1997, pp. 299–300), for example, briefly discusses how agglomeration economies may be more regional than local or may operate at a ‘system-of-city level’. Also, in an earlier book, Storper and Walker (1989, pp. 70–71) discuss dispersing as one of four types of locational patterns of industries, calling it ‘deagglomeration’. Analysts explain this process of growth, they say, using either neoclassical or product-life cycle theories. Of the five variants of their theories of growth, the...

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