Theoretical, Empirical and Political Perspectives on the Initial Stage of Cluster Evolution
Edited by Dirk Fornahl, Sebastian Henn and Max-Peter Menzel
Chapter 7: Standards as Institutions Supporting the Cluster Emergence Process: The Case of Aquaculture in Chile
Paola Perez-Aleman INTRODUCTION 1 This chapter focuses on how institutions that foster collective learning interact with the process of cluster emergence. The argument is that standards, which are norms and agreements about product characteristics and production processes, constitute crucial institutions in the emergence and development of a cluster. Existing work highlights two elements as crucial in the early stages of cluster development: connecting to sources of market demand and firm building (Bresnahan et al. 2001). Standards interact in important ways with these two elements. First, the ability to compete in foreign markets depends on meeting the quality performance of prevailing international competitors. Second, standards encompass technological knowledge (Jacobsson 2000), which involve specific actions in production (Leblebici et al. 1991; Brunsson and Jacobsson 2000), and therefore can guide the firm’s capability building process in a new economic activity. They can assist in the individual and collective firm learning about how to produce products and improve production processes to take advantage of major market opportunities. Regional clusters, defined as geographical and sectoral concentration of firms operating in the same or related industries, are common in the developing world (Pietrobelli and Rabelloti 2006). Often, internationally competitive developing country firms grow within, along or tied to clusters (McKendrick et al. 2001; Saxenian and Hsu 2001; Giuliani et al. 2005; Perez-Aleman 2005; McDermott 2007). For example, successful Indian companies such as Wipro and Infosys are in Bangalore’s information technology cluster (Balasubramanyam and Balasubramanyam 1997; Ramamurti 2004). Similarly, Brazil’s Embraer (Goldstein 2002) and its global footwear...
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