Edited by Laura J. Spence, Jedrzej G. Frynas, Judy N. Muthuri and Jyoti Navare
Chapter 17: Case study: clustering – a way to create shared value? A case study of a food and drink cluster organisation in England
This chapter presents a case study of a food and drink cluster in England, referred to as the South Midlands Food and Drink Group (SMFDG) for reasons of confidentiality. This is a purposefully formed grassroots cluster organisation primarily comprising small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), many of them small stockists and producers. Specifically, this study challenges Michael E. Porter’s and Mark R. Kramer’s notion that clustering can ‘create shared value’ (CSV) by using empirical data to determine if clusters can create economic and social value simultaneously. To differentiate this concept from CSV, it is referred to as ‘cluster shared value’ here. Fieldwork was conducted with 34 SMEs, larger firms and partnering institutions of the SMFDG, primarily on businesses sites in the form of semi-structured interviews, and observation of SMFDG related events and meetings. Results indicate that clustering can create economic and social benefits for SMFDG members but these benefits are not inclusive to clustering. Many firms act independently to create positive social impacts in their community. This is indicative of the notion that many SMEs practise corporate social responsibility without recognising it, viewing it as the ‘right thing to do’ while the economic benefits of their collaborations and knowledge sharing can be seen throughout the organisation’s members. However, the interactions between members are not all positive. For example, competition between similar businesses was expressed negatively and some businesses experienced resistance from communities.
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