Cases and Policies
Handbooks of Research on Clusters series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson
Frank Peck and Christine E. Lloyd 1 Introduction Strategies and policies designed to foster the development of competitive groups of linked businesses within regional economies remain very prominent in recent policy-related research (Andersson et al., 2004; Hospers, 2005; Observatory of European SMEs, 2002; Porter, 2000, 2001; Roelandt et al., 2000). Most of these strategies have been inspired by academic debates concerning the nature of regional clusters and the process by which these are thought to have evolved (recent overviews include Bathelt et al., 2004; Gordon and McCann, 2000; Malmberg, 2003; Porter, 2003). This chapter presents an overview of the ways in which regional policy makers in diﬀerent national contexts have interpreted the notion of clustering and discusses some of the issues encountered in implementing such strategies. We then examine some recent contributions to the academic debate that appear to challenge the usefulness of the concept of clustering. The chapter concludes by reconsidering developments in cluster strategies and evaluating the usefulness of the concept as a basis for intervention in regional economies. 2 The theoretical basis of regional cluster policies In recent years, there has been a widespread acceptance that success in the global economy depends to a large extent upon the identiﬁcation and promotion of regional ‘clusters’ of economic activities that are in some sense ‘similar’ or ‘linked’. As noted elsewhere in this volume, these linkages may involve direct trading through regional supply chains that are thought to be a source of competitive advantage derived from the bene...
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