Systemic Linkages Between Knowledge and the Market
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Blandine Laperche, Dimitri Uzunidis and G. N. von Tunzelmann
Chapter 11: Clumps or Clusters: A Case Study of Biotechnology and Life Sciences in the Seattle Area
Paul Sommers 1. INTRODUCTION: CLUMPS AND CLUSTERS Bob Drewel, the leader of a regional economic development organization in the Puget Sound, says that he is trying to encourage clusters of ﬁrms in the region, not clumps of ﬁrms.1 ‘Clumps’ in his view are ﬁrms that just happen to be located near each other but do not interact much to exploit their potential agglomeration economies, whereas clusters deliberately exploit a variety of interdependencies that make themselves and the region more competitive. This chapter examines this distinction, using the case of biotechnology-related ﬁrms and institutions in the Seattle area as a test of the theoretical perspective developed below. Drewel identiﬁed one of the key issues in the debates around cluster initiatives. Michael Porter’s classic cluster model focuses attention on competitive relations among ﬁrms in an industry striving to meet the needs of demanding customers, and among suppliers to those ﬁrms, all of which are located in proximity to each other. He also stresses the importance of supporting institutions in his well-known diamond model (Porter 1990, 2000). Stuart Rosenfeld, on the other hand, has emphasized the importance of collaboration among ﬁrms and key institutions in a regional cluster: The glue that continues to make proximity matter consists of ‘soft’ externalities, e.g. greater access to tacit knowledge, opportunities for deliberate acts of cooperation and collaboration that give companies the strength of numbers to inﬂuence customers, markets, or policies, and access to experienced labour. (Rosenfeld 2005, p. 6) Both of these theoretical frameworks...
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