Edited by Pengfei Ni and Zheng Qiongjie
Chapter 12: A development officer's guide to clusters
Since the publication of Michael Porterís The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990), the urban competitiveness consulting industry has taken to the concept of the cluster as a key element in any municipal economic strategic plan with extraordinary enthusiasm and conviction. One international organization, The Competitiveness Institute, has even asserted that ëcompetitiveness is clustersí. Municipal leaders are inundated with proposals from economic development consultancies as to what they should do to implement this latest version of an ëoften-mindless groping for ìbest practiceîí. Actually, research has shown us that this single-minded focus on cluster development is often misguided as cluster structures are effective ñ in some industries but not in others, in some urban settings but not in others, in conjunction with some municipal governance structures and policies but not with others, and so forth. In this chapter I shall review: (i) the argument in favor of cluster development as an urban development approach, (ii) the situations in which this is and is not effective, and (iii) how municipal decision makers might want to think about this strategic response to the need to enhance an urban economyís competitiveness.
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