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CIRCLE, Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy, Lund University Papers in Innovation Studies, CIRCLE, Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy, Lund University

No 2014/12:
Perspectives on Cluster Evolution: Critical Review and Future Research Issues

Michaela Trippl (), Markus Grillitsch (), Arne Isaksen () and Tanja Sinozic ()

Abstract: The past two decades have witnessed an ever-growing scholarly interest in regional clusters. The focus of research has mainly been on why clusters exist and what characteristics “functioning” clusters hold. Although the interest in more dynamic views on clusters is not new, in recent years, however, more attention has been paid to providing better explanations of how clusters change and develop over time, giving rise to an increasing popularity of different variants of the cluster life cycle approach. This article offers a critical review of various cluster life cycle models. We discuss the key ideas and arguments put forward by their main protagonists and we identify several shortcomings – such as the problematic predefinition of development phases, indifference to context-specific factors and neglect of multi-scalar impacts – that surround these models. Based on this critical assessment the article identifies several core issues for future research. In particular, we argue that there is a need to gain a better understanding of the context sensitivity of cluster evolution, to explore how cluster development paths are influenced by a multiplicity of factors and processes at various spatial scales and their interactions, and to investigate the role of human agents and to unravel how they shape the long-term development of regional clusters.

Keywords: cluster evolution; life cycle approaches; context sensitivity; multi-scalar frameworks; human agency; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: P48; R10; R11; R50; R58; (follow links to similar papers)

20 pages, July 23, 2014

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