Bridging Disciplinary Frontiers
Chapter 7: Does Cluster Policy Really Enhance Networking and Increase Competitiveness?
Mari Jose Aranguren Querejeta, Cristina Aragón Amonarriz, Miren Larrea Aranguren and Cristina Iturrioz Landart 1 INTRODUCTION In their analysis of Basque Country clusters policy, Aranguren and Navarro (2003) conclude the need for evaluating the clusters policy in the Basque Country. At an international level, a broader analysis of cluster initiatives by Sölvel et al. (2003) also remarks on the need for cluster initiatives’ evaluation. In response, this chapter presents a methodological approach and a tool for cluster/network policy evaluation (Aragón et al., 2004; Aranguren et al., 2006). This is combined with its application in two cluster/network policy cases in the Basque Country: the Paper Cluster Association (PCA), one of the cluster associations included in the cluster policy of the Basque Government, and Ezagutza Gunea (EG network), a cooperation network developed with the impulse of a local development agency, Iraurgi Lantzen. The tool aims to evaluate how the mission established for such policies (the improvement of competitiveness, responding to strategic challenges through cooperation) is being achieved. It has been developed considering that a series of factors such as the existence of a set of social capital values, the privileged relationships among the members of a cluster/network, the existence of a common interest and the experiences of collaboration in strategic projects are very important elements for increasing the probability to fulﬁl such a mission. For this reason these elements have been incorporated in the evaluation tool besides the fulﬁlment of the mission itself. The chapter is structured...
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