___________________________________________________ 1.1 INTRODUCTION In spite of the ever-growing interest in cluster-related policies, it is a paradox that we know relatively little about them. In particular, there is still very limited scientific understanding about: the role of policies and (semi-)public institutions in clusters, the changing trends in cluster-related policies during the past decade, the precise policy needs and demands of firms in clusters given the changes taking place around the globe, the issues ahead in terms of policy design and opportunities, the changing role of public and semi-public cluster leaders. Understanding the role of policy and of institutional initiatives is particularly important given the changing international and European contexts, which are putting pressure on the competitiveness of old and new clusters. In Europe, and the European Union (EU) in particular, the recent accession of new member states from Central and Eastern Europe is unleashing unprecedented adjustments (e.g. movements of labour and firms) – trends that are having a tremendous impact on existing and emerging clusters. For the reasons above, this book aims at addressing some of the most compelling questions regarding cluster-related policies in Europe. Namely, what are the changing policy needs of the clusters in view of the transforming trends in the European manufacturing sector? How (and how far) are public and private actors reorganising and reconceptualising their action with regard to clusters? What sort of public-private actors’ interactions are emerging from this? How is governance being articulated in each country? What lessons can be drawn from a comparative analysis of...
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