Chapter 9: Cluster policy adjustments in the context of smart specialization? Impressions from Germany
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While the cluster concept is foremost based on the economic principle of localization economies and cluster policies interpret this principle in several ways, smart specialization is a political tool, although the idea of the advantages of specialized economic activities is one of its basic constituents. Nevertheless, the difference in its objectives compared to the cluster concept lies in the fact that smart specialization introduces new approaches to designing regional innovation policy which focus more effectively on specific regions’ actual potentials. The objective of this chapter is to analyse the coexistence, competition and interdependence of cluster and smart specialization policies in Germany. We present evidence from four German Länder (federal states) in order to demonstrate that due to a common national policy framework and a common set of institutions affecting the regional innovation systems, variations in cluster policy and the implementation of smart specialization strategies are possible. At the end of the chapter we derive some general conclusions about the interdependence of both approaches beyond the German context.

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