Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Centre for Innovation Research

No 2020/4: Putting the watering can away Towards a targeted (problem-oriented) cluster policy framework

Nils Grashof ()
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Nils Grashof: University of Bremen, Postal: Germany

Abstract: In view of the undisputed promising effects of regional clusters and spurred by lighthouse examples such as Silicon Valley, cluster policies have been popular in many countries worldwide. However, in recent years the complaints have become louder about the actual economic relevance and efficiency of such regional innovation policies. In particular, the high degree of standardization in the so far applied cluster policies, focusing primarily on collaborative incentives to strengthen the relational density in clusters, have been criticized as being rather ineffective and costly to society. In order to solve this one-size-fits-all problem it has been proposed that cluster policies should instead focus on the concrete conditions and needs within regional clusters. The aim of this paper is to respond this call by considering firm-, cluster- and market-/industry-specific particularities. Based on an extensive systematic literature review and own empirical results about the relationship between clusters and firm’s performance, an overview about relevant conditions is elaborated. Such an overview makes it possible to identify potential problems, e.g. in terms of missing absorptive capacities, which cluster policy can purposeful address. For each identified problem, a potential targeted (problem-oriented) policy intervention is therefore suggested. The corresponding result of this procedure is a policy-framework that offers an increased practical value in terms of bringing forth specific adaptive cluster policies rather than one-size-fits-all policies and thereby contributing to a more sophisticated understanding of the design of cluster policies.

Keywords: innovation policy; cluster policy; cluster effect; firm performance

JEL-codes: L52; L53; O25; O38; R10; R10

41 pages, March 23, 2020

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