Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Chapter 8: Clustering in Space versus Dispersing over Space
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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