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Can the government create a vibrant cluster? Understanding the impact of cluster policy on the development of a cluster

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JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
DateSubmitted - 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Jul 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jul 2018
DatePublished (current) - 2018
Issue number7-8
Volume30
Pages (from-to)901-919
Early online date23/07/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Over the past two decades, clusters have become a popular policy tool to increase the competitiveness of regions and to stimulate job creation. The underlying assumption of cluster policy is that the government can either facilitate the development of a cluster or create one ‘from scratch’. So far, limited attention has been given to how the members of clusters reflect on the ways in which the government may influence the running of the cluster. This paper further contributes to this debate by addressing two issues. First, it examines to what extent a cluster that is highly affected by governmental cluster policy is being appropriated by the members. Second, the paper investigates whether the cluster is functioning according to the government’s intent. Empirical material is derived from a case study of a French cluster. Besides resulting from a cluster policy initiative, this cluster was recently required by the government to meet a new set of objectives. Our findings confirm that it is difficult for members of a government-influenced cluster to fully appropriate it. We show that new political objectives can destabilise the cluster by putting the current power distribution into question and that it can create incentives from the cluster to renew itself. We also question the cluster’s capacity to change its development path. More generally, we reflect on the government’s ability to influence the development path of clusters.

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© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

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