Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters
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Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters

Cases and Policies

Edited by Charlie Karlsson

The role of innovations and clusters has increasingly dominated local and regional development policies in recent decades. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers important aspects of high-tech clusters, analyses insightful cluster case studies, and provides a number of recommendations for cluster policies.
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Chapter 21: The Role of Civic Capital and Civic Associations in Cluster Policy

David A. Wolfe and Jen Nelles


David A. Wolfe and Jen Nelles 1 Introduction A broad range of academic and policy-related research has adopted the cluster concept as a practical tool to inform local economic development policy. The concept has been used to analyse the factors that contribute to the relative success enjoyed by different regions and localities, as well as provide a framework to guide policy makers in the design of local initiatives. Much of this literature suggests that the benefits of clustering are linked to advantages that firms derive from proximity to other firms in related and supporting industries, as well as to the benefits from having privileged access to extraeconomic resources located close to the cluster (Asheim, Cooke and Martin, 2006). These additional resources include a strong local research infrastructure, specialized training institutions, focused support services, such as legal and accounting, access to a sufficient supply of necessary capital and supportive government policies, especially at the regional and local level. Closely related to these extraeconomic resources is the presence of an institutionally ‘thick’ set of local actors who provide dynamic leadership for the cluster, both in terms of facilitating the kind of inter-firm linkages that accelerate the flow of knowledge among cluster-based firms, as well as promoting the policy interests of the cluster to relevant levels of government. However, the exact nature and role played by local civic associations and civic actors is more often the subject of anecdotal comments than the object of detailed analysis, and the...

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