New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Börje Johansson, Kiyoshi Kobayashi and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 9: Cluster development policy as a tool in regional development and competitiveness policy: theoretical concepts and empirical evidence
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the recent recognition that the analysis of clusters and clustering processes are not only of interest in academic studies of industries or the economic development and performance of geographical regions, but also have become an instrument of regional business development policy. Traditionally, the concepts of industrial districts or clustering have been related to the manufacturing sector. Today, clusters are observed in a much broader context, including and combining many kinds of activities relevant for economic development and performance. Further, the approach has been extended to cover a wider range of activities related to economic policy and the improvement of regional competitiveness and growth – that is, knowledge and innovation transfer and dissemination, as well as the support of R & D. ‘Triple Helix’-inspired frameworks for the cooperation of companies, knowledge institutions, and government are often an integrated element of cluster-oriented development policy. As a consequence, the concept of clustering has become increasingly popular in business development policy, with an aim to create expected beneficial features of clustered industries artificially. Historically, the roots of the idea of considering clusters as a particularly vigorous business environment began with the classical Marshallian and Italian concepts of industrial districts, and their systems of production as well as knowledge and skill dissemination. This chapter’s intent is to provide a critical assessment of a cluster-based business development policy and to present some recent Danish initiatives in the field.