Cluster theory evidence what remains of the concept some reflections
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Cluster theory evidence: What remains of the concept – some reflections. Session IX – Innovation Systems Research Network Seventh Annual Meeting Toronto, May 5-6, 2005 Bjørn Asheim Lund University and University of Oslo. What’s good with Porter. Path dependency – historical trajectories

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Cluster theory evidence what remains of the concept some reflections
Cluster theory evidence: What remains of the concept – some reflections

Session IX – Innovation Systems Research Network

Seventh Annual Meeting

Toronto, May 5-6, 2005

Bjørn Asheim

Lund University and University of Oslo


What s good with porter
What’s good with Porter some reflections

  • Path dependency – historical trajectories

  • Continuous innovation

  • Competitive advantage based on unique resources, which need not be R&D-based

  • Focus less on R&D and more on interactive learning

  • From a firm to a cluster (context) perspective


From id to cluster in a globalising economy
From ID to cluster in a globalising economy some reflections

  • These characteristics of IDs are disappearing, making IDs turn into regional clusters:

  • Embeddedness (fusion of economy and community) - FDIs

  • Value/commodity chain local - outsourcing

  • Dominance of SMEs – TNCs and regional group formations


Problems with porter s cluster
Problems with Porter’s cluster some reflections

  • Conceptual problems – DEFINITIONS

  • Original definition (1990): Economical/functional – national level (industrial/sectoral clusters within nations)

  • Later definition (1998): Geographical/territorial – regional level (regional clusters)


Problems with porter s cluster1
Problems with Porter’s cluster some reflections

  • Scaling problems – location of factors of the DIAMOND:

  • From large nations (USA) to small nations (Norway)

  • From nations to regions

  • From large regions (in federal states) to small regions (in the Nordic countries)


Problems with porter s cluster2
Problems with Porter’s cluster some reflections

  • Theoretical problems – the inclusiveness of the CLUSTER concept

  • Porter makes no distinction between cluster and RIS, as clusters contains R&D institutes and universities

  • Important to make this distinction – cluster is not identical with RIS (a RIS must support more than one local cluster)


  • Knowledge bases, clusters and RIS: some reflections

    • The relevance of different types of RIS must be placed in a context of the knowledge base of various industries

    • Innovation processes of firms are strongly shaped by their specific knowledge base

    • Distinguish between different types of knowledge base:

    • a) analytical (science based)

    • b) synthetic (engineering based)

    • c) symbolic (creativity based)


  • Cluster-RIS distinction (not identical – RIS supports more than one cluster):

  • The existence of ’pure’ regional clusters where relations to RIS are established at a later stage of a cluster’s life cycle in order to support localised learning and innovation in the cluster (auxiliary), and

  • The existence of relations between clusters and RIS from the emergence of the cluster as a necessary input in the development of the cluster (integrated)


  • Cluster – RIS: than one cluster):

  • The traditional constellation of industrial clusters surrounded by innovation supporting organisations in a RIS is normally found in contexts of industries with a synthetic knowledge base

  • The existence of a RIS as a necessary part of the development of an emerging cluster will normally be the case of industries based on an analytical knowledge base


  • Thus, different historical and emerging technological trajectories co-exist:

  • In traditional cluster-RIS relations, based on industries with a synthetic knowledge base, the logic behind building RIS is to support and strengthen localised learning of existing industrial specialisations in a cluster, i.e. to promote historical technological trajectories based on ’sticky’ knowledge in the region

  • In contexts of relations between clusters and RIS as a necessary condition for the emergence and growth of the clusters it is a question of promoting new and emerging economic activity based on industries with an analytical knowlegde base, requiring close and systemic industry-university cooperation and interaction in e.g. science parks, located in proximity of knowledge creating organisations (e.g. (technical) universities)


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