Innovation, Learning and Clusters
Edited by Knut Ingar Westeren
Chapter 12: Clusters and Cluster Development in the Knowledge Economy
Andreas P. Cornett Introduction Historically, the roots of clusters as a business strategy date back to classical Marshallian and Italian concepts of industrial districts. Traditionally, the concepts of industrial districts and clustering have been limited to the manufacturing sector. Today, the concept is applied in a much broader context, covering all kinds of economic activities, including private and public services with relevance for economic development and performance. Furthermore, the concepts have been extended to cover a wide range of activities related to economic policy and the improvement of regional competitiveness and growth (i.e. knowledge and innovation transfer and dissemination as well as the support of research and development). Triple helix inspired frameworks are often central to cluster-oriented development policy. They provide a mechanism to combine three main elements: innovation, entrepreneurship and clustering. To be sure, the concept of clustering has become increasingly popular in business development policy. The combination of these aspects leads to the central research question of this chapter, to assess the role and potential of a cluster development policy in a knowledge economy. Cluster-oriented development policy is the focus of this chapter, which is organized into four subsequent sections. First, traditional concepts of clustering are presented. Next, more recent approaches incorporating knowledgebased components are discussed using a conceptualization of ‘space-less’ or virtual processes focused on how regional cluster-based development policy can be linked to the global economic and knowledge system. Today, this is crucial in a world of new international division of production and functional division of...
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