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The Globalization of Regional Clusters

Between Localization and Internationalization

Edited by Dirk Fornahl and Nils Grashof

Addressing the role of regional clusters in the context of ongoing globalization, this timely book investigates the two seemingly competing trends of globalization and localization from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. International case studies offer pioneering insights into the internationalization process of regional clusters and the effect of this on regional as well as firm performance.
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Nils Grashof and Thomas Brenner

Spurred by their outstanding economic opportunities, radical innovations, emerging from the recombination of former unconnected knowledge, have received increasing attention by policy makers and researchers alike. To support innovations in general, policy makers have mainly focussed on fostering the interaction within regional clusters, thereby assuming that localisation externalities only function efficiently on short geographical distances. By implementing cross-cluster as well as internationalisation measures, only recently efforts were undertaken to move beyond the geographical boundaries of clusters. While the importance of extra-local knowledge on innovativeness in general has already been highlighted, it remains unclear whether this holds also true for innovations that are rather radical in nature. Thus, we lack knowledge about which type of relationship is particularly promoting the emergence of radical innovations in regional clusters. In order to address this research gap empirically, we apply a quantitative approach on the firm-level and combine several data sources (e.g. AMADEUS, PATSTAT, German subsidy catalogue). Our results provide evidence for the stimulating effect of cluster external relationships as well as for the assumed benefits of cross-cluster relationships. By further differentiating the types of relationships according to the geographical and thematic characteristics, it can for instance be additionally determined that firms having cross-cluster relationships with thematically and regional different partners are most likely to create radical innovations. Our findings emphasize the promising potential of cross-cluster initiatives and the need to adjust the composition of these relationships according to different thematic and geographic backgrounds of the corresponding collaboration partners.

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Diversity, Innovation and Clusters

Spatial Perspectives

Edited by Iréne Bernhard, Urban Gråsjö and Charlie Karlsson

Increased emphasis on the links between regional diversity and regional knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship highlights the need for a focus on the spatial aspects of these multifaceted, dynamic relationships in order to improve our understanding. By means of a conceptual approach, this timely book illustrates the links between innovation and economic development through the role of space. This thought-provoking book addresses the questions regarding diversity, innovation and clusters that require further investigation and analysis.
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Alexander Auer and Franz Tödtling

Cluster policies are considered increasingly important for supporting the development of clusters. However, not all clusters have the same preconditions and needs for policy initiatives to stimulate their performance and development. In this chapter it is argued that the role of cluster policies differs between sectors and regions depending on particular framework conditions and development factors that might also change over time. On the firm-level, the role of cluster policies seems to be even more diverse since particular firm needs and problems vary according to the companies’ main activities, age and size. Concepts on cluster policy and cluster life cycles have disregarded such a differentiated role of cluster policies and its effects on cluster firms so far. We investigate the environmental technology cluster in Upper Austria and the new media cluster in Vienna from this perspective. Both clusters differ with regard to the role of cluster policies. While in the former policy has a stronger role and policy actors have tried to actively support funding and network initiatives, the latter seemed to be less dependent on policy activities and more shaped by related industry developments.

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Knut Koschatzky, Henning Kroll, Esther Schnabl and Thomas Stahlecker

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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Elvira Uyarra and Ronnie Ramlogan

The phenomenon of clusters has attracted much interest over recent years, both from academics who seek to understand their workings and policymakers who seek to emulate their apparent success. However, while numerous studies have sought to examine their characteristics, their performance and how they may be supported, particularly in regard of those clusters that occur ‘naturally’, little evidence is available on the nature and the impact of policies that have been implemented with the goal of fostering clusters. Thus, policy learning in this area is sparse. We endeavour to address this evidence gap, by reviewing the evolving rationales underpinning cluster policy and the challenges associated with their implementation and evaluation. The chapter concludes with some general lessons and implications.

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Markus Grillitsch and Bjørn T. Asheim

The literature on cluster evolution suggests that heterogeneity of firm capabilities and openness of network structures are essential for the renewal of mature and declining clusters. This chapter argues that the regional and institutional context in which clusters are embedded plays an important role for the renewal of clusters. It elaborates how the integration of institutional variety can stimulate the combination of different types of knowledge, learning and modes of innovation, thereby promoting cluster renewal. The conceptual argument is illustrated with a case study of the maritime cluster in Møre og Romsdal, Norway, which is one of the globally leading clusters in this industry. We find that key actors and policy play an important role in integrating institutional variety. Additionally, the case shows that institutional variety and the integration thereof can be a driving force for cluster renewal even in specialized and semi-peripheral locations.

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Gerd Meier zu Köcker and Thomas Lämmer-Gamp

Cluster policies are to be understood as framework policies rather than as “hands-on” interventionist policies that pretend to know the future better than the market. Due to increasing globalisation and industrial transformation, the challenges that cluster policymakers and programme owners face are significant. Policy approaches that have worked well over many years are no longer applicable in the future. A future-oriented cluster policy has to support both “places” and “issues”, like the new value chains that interlink companies of different branches. When new industries emerge and new value chains develop, new capabilities are becoming increasingly important, among others innovation culture, innovation infrastructure, and innovation speed. The paper attempts to set up core design features of future cluster policies in order to better cope with upcoming challenges. It also looks at the implications for regions pondering how to design and implement their smart specialization strategies for better regional economic growth.

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Michael Rothgang and Bernhard Lageman

While the features of cluster development have caught a lot of interest in the research literature on cluster policy, cluster initiatives have rarely received researchers’ attention up to now. Cluster initiatives are no natural component of cluster evolution, but have developed as a result of cluster policies as intermediary organisations. They operate as mediators between the cluster population and the cluster programme administrators and also facilitate the coordination between cluster actors. This contribution asks for the origin and development patterns of cluster initiatives which are analysed by looking at Germany’s Spitzenclusters, the initiatives funded by the federal programme Spitzencluster-Wettbewerb (Leading-Edge Clusters Competition). Starting from a life-cycle model of cluster initiatives that distinguishes five development stages, we find that the Spitzencluster initiatives essentially followed rather similar cyclical development paths. The patterns of public financial support and the set of regulations imposed on the initiatives by the programme turned out to be the most important factors that influenced the evolution of the clusters initiatives. Multiple other internal and external influences like international competition, interaction between cluster actor representatives, or decisions of core firms in the clusters were responsible for the differences observed within the group of the Spitzenclusters. All in all, we find that peculiarities of cluster programmes strongly influence the shape and duration of the initiatives’ developmental cycles.