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An organisational perspective on the cluster paradox: exploring how members of a cluster manage the tension between continuity and renewal

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DateSubmitted - 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 2 Feb 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 12 Feb 2018
Issue number3
Volume47
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)674–685
Early online date12/02/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Clusters face what has been referred to as a 'cluster paradox'; a situation in which a collective identity breeds cohesion and efficiency in inter-organisational collaboration, yet it hinders the variety needed to adapt to disruptive change and prevent lock-in situations. Accordingly, a recurring theme in the literature on cluster evolution and cluster life-cycles is the need for constant renewal to allow clusters to adapt to a changing environment. However, how individual firms enact a process of cluster renewal and consider possible response options is not well understood. Using a French energy cluster as empirical setting, this paper investigates individual members' enactment of the renewal in terms of how it could affect their current position, both structurally and relationally, and to what extent members felt that they had agency to steer the process to safeguard their position. The findings show that members' enactment of the proposed change does not only depend on the perceived impact of cluster renewal on the member itself but also on the impact the renewal might have on other members in the firm's network. The analysis also suggests that cluster renewal leads to a leadership vacuum where it is not clear who, if anyone, will lead the renewal process.

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