Theoretical, Empirical and Political Perspectives on the Initial Stage of Cluster Evolution
Edited by Dirk Fornahl, Sebastian Henn and Max-Peter Menzel
Chapter 4: Bridging Ruptures: The Re-emergence of the Antwerp Diamond District After World War II and the Role of Strategic Action
Sebastian Henn and Eric Laureys* INTRODUCTION 1 ‘Diamonds love Antwerp’ – these three words constitute the present slogan of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, the organization concerned with the promotion of the local diamond sector and with keeping the Scheldt city an important hub for trading and manufacturing the precious stones in the age of globalization with competing centres evolving especially in low-cost countries like China and Thailand (The New York Times, 31 May 2005; Even-Zohar 2006). In fact, diamonds seem to have loved the Antwerp region even in the past as this part of Belgium has been a major centre for trading and polishing them since the 15th century (Walgrave 1993). Despite some ups and downs, there had not been any interruption of the commercial activities in this sector until World War II reached the country and trading as well as processing of the stones gradually were discontinued (Laureys 2005, chapter 5f.). After 1945, however, the Belgian diamond sector experienced a long-lasting boom which contributed significantly to the country’s economic power. This is surprising as the former infrastructure had partly been taken away or destroyed, many workers had fled, been deported or killed and promising diamond centres had evolved during the years of the German occupation (van Dyck 1989). Against this background, this chapter aims at analysing the factors which led to the re-emergence of the cluster at its former location. For this purpose it is structured as follows: first, the theoretical framework will be outlined showing that the development...
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