Chapter 12: Integration—fragmentation—reintegration? Studying cluster evolution, regional path development and cluster policies in the Ruhr Area
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This chapter analyses the transformation of regional economic structures in the Ruhr Area, an old industrial area. We discuss these transformation processes in the contest of global (macro), regional, sectoral (meso) and actor-orientated constellations and dynamics. We concentrate our argumentation on the phase of restructuring in cluster development and on modes of reintegration in the regional economic structure of the Ruhr Area. We argue that, in the case of the Ruhr Area, processes of decoupling and fragmentation have been inevitable stages in the reorientation and reformation of regional clusters over time. At the same time regional and sectoral differences of sub-regions have led to greater variations in the overall economic structure of the Ruhr Area. In discussing different phases of regional political interventions and cluster and networking initiatives, we look at the interplay of political measures to support regional economic change and market driven strategies of individual companies and on its impact for regional cluster transformation. And last but not least, we ask for lessons to be learned for cluster politics and regional smart specialization strategies and point to some open theoretical and empirical questions on processes of decline and restructuring during cluster life cycles.

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