______________________________________________________________ 2.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter describes the methodological background, the overall research design, the key research questions and the most important decisions taken in their pursuit in this study. The discussion will start from the key research questions and proceed to an overview of the comparative case study approach that forms the backbone of the research design, moving on to sampling issues, primary and secondary data collection instruments. These will be followed by an overview of the key variables and forms of analyses while the chapter will conclude by addressing the most pertinent validity and reliability issues. As introduced in section 1.9 the purposes of this study are exploratory, descriptive, and explanatory in the main, aiming to: i) fill the gaps in the current literature about the patterns and dynamics of cluster MLG and learning processes in Europe, ii) to describe and interpret individual characteristics as well as general trends in the studied countries and clusters, and iii) provide answers to questions relating to the explored and described phenomena. Suffice it to state here in the way of an introduction that the research design of this study was successfully implemented across six European countries (viz. Germany, the UK, Italy, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Romania)1 and that it adopted: • An interdisciplinary approach. That is, the research design development, implementation, and interpretation of findings drew on a number of disciplines from political science, sociology, and economics, to international business, and their respective research traditions. • Multiple methods with a cross-cultural comparative multiple...
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