Markets, Clusters and Innovation
Chapter 10: Reflections on the Research and Conclusions for Policy
10. Reﬂections on the research and conclusions for policy INTRODUCTION In the course of researching and writing this book, three key matters of considerable importance have happened for our understanding of the evolutionary economic geography of high-technology development. The ﬁrst of these is that, while embarking on a methodology rooted in the notion of sectors, we found they exerted less and less leverage on the reality we were describing. As some of our respondents said, sectors are a ﬁction. They, by contrast, were interested in how pervasive innovations and any associated technologies could be. Some were not particularly complimentary about the policy of cluster-building operating in some locations, seeing it – correctly – as a ‘retro-model’ itself rooted in narrow sectoral concerns. Academics have been critical of ideas connected with clustering in the active policy sense, for some time now (Asheim et al., 2006) critical also of the fascination they have for economic development policy-makers worldwide. But none until now have seen with the clarity of the experienced entrepreneur who temporarily held a key intermediary role at the knowledge transfer interface between the public and private spheres, that clusters are a nineteenth-century model of industrial organization. No one denies they exist, for instance, as echoes of a certain kind of agglomeration economy recognized by Alfred Marshall as industrial districts but with a peculiarly Italian turbo-driven and collaborative form of small-ﬁrm interaction often, for example, in mature, luxury sectors associated with the ‘Made in Italy’ label. Nor that knowledge-intensive variants could...
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