TCI Network
27 August 2014

This monthly selection of articles has been carried out by Philippe Gugler and Michael Keller, the Center for Competitiveness, University of Fribourg.


Nested Methodological Approaches for Cluster Policy Evaluation: An Application to the Basque Country

By : Mari José Aranguren, Xabier de la Maza, Mario Davide Parrilli, Ferran Vendrell-Herrero and James R. Wilson. Regional Studies, Volume 48, Issue 9, Pages 547-1562, 2014.

Abstract: « This paper explores the evaluation of cluster policies designed to support cooperation and networking. It examines the case of the long-running Basque policy, where support is provided for ‘cluster associations’. It first examines empirically the effects of the cluster associations on firm productivity performance, alongside other variables including agglomeration and firm behavioural characteristics. The results provide some weak evidence for the existence of additionality associated with the policy. This empirical work is complemented with context-specific knowledge of the policy in question to show that the nesting of both empirical and contextual approaches is crucial for effectively evaluating such policies.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Global temporary networks of clusters: structures and dynamics of trade fairs in Asian economies

By : Peng-Fei Li. Journal of Economic Geography, Volume 14, Issue 5, Pages 995-1021, 2014.

Abstract : «Acting as temporary clusters, trade fairs can turn into trans-local learning spaces in global industrial communities. However, up to now, how temporary gatherings are related to regional/national economies has not yet been systematically investigated. This article approaches the question with an international comparative study of trade fairs in Asian economies. Generally, consistent with a dynamic interpretation of temporary clusters, trade fairs exhibit a more diverse configuration of participants, being a setting more compatible for knowledge creation, in more developed Asian economies. However, structures of trade fairs are also influenced by organizational features of embedded economies. Further, seven flagship electronics fairs suggest an architecture of global temporary networks of clusters for high-end learning processes in the global knowledge economy.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


When Firms Take the Lead in Facilitating Clusters

By : Mads Bruun Ingstrup. European Planning Studies, Volume 22, Issue 9, Pages 1902-1918, 2014.

Abstract: « This paper focuses on the role of lead firms and their efforts to facilitate the development of clusters. Several clusters are known for the location of the lead firms that create and shape them, for example, by increasing their skill base, attracting suppliers and creating entrepreneurial activity. However, the literature suffers from insufficient dialogue on the role of lead firms as facilitators of clusters and on how the developmental differences in clusters affect the facilitation performed, and thus the benefits delivered, by lead firms. A key question then is how does the facilitation by lead firms differ in a top-down cluster from that in a bottom-up cluster? The paper is based on a comparative case study investigating the facilitating role of a lead firm within two clusters: Medicon Valley (top-down) and Mechatronics Cluster Denmark (bottom-up). The main conclusion reached is that lead firms in top-down clusters and in bottom-up clusters contribute with quite similar and overlapping cluster benefits, but the way in which these benefits are delivered differs greatly.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


Spinoff and Clustering: a return to the Marshallian district

By : Lucia Cusmano, Andrea Morrison and Enrico Pandolfo. Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography, 14.16, 2014.

Abstract: « The origin and growth of industrial clusters have attracted the attention of scholars and policy makers since the early era of industrialisation. The seminal work by Alfred Marshall has represented the foundation for a rich strand of literature, whose late expansion and refinement were inspired by the experiences of localised development in emerging regions. This is the case of Italian industrial districts, which have emerged as a territorial model of industrial agglomeration, decentralised production and flexible specialisation. Recently, the traditional explananda of the emergence of clusters have been reconsidered. The evidence about the growth of clusters in areas that did not have obvious natural advantages, nor the first comers’ benefits of early agglomeration economies, has inspired a different conceptualisation, which draws consistently from the evolutionary perspective on industrial dynamics. Klepper (2001, 2010) shows that more successful firms have higher spin-off rates and their spin-offs tend to outperform competitors. Organizational reproduction and heredity are thus identified as the primary forces underlying clustering. The present paper investigates the emergence and evolution of an Italian industrial district, the Sassuolo tile district, one of the largest and most successful ceramic districts in the world, and a paradigmatic example of Italian Marshallian district. Overall, our findings confirm that organizational reproduction and heredity represent primary mechanisms of clustering. However, our results also show that spin-offs do not perform better than non-spin-offs. It appears that, in dense industrial environments and social networks, competitive advantages can also be acquired or built through other channels.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Exploring the role of industry intermediaries in the construction of ‘Local Pipelines’: The case of the Montreal Fur Garment Cluster and the rise of Fur–Fashion connections

By : Norma M. Rantisi. Journal of Economic Geography, Volume 14, Issue 5, Pages 955-971, 2014.

Abstract : «The fur garment cluster in Montreal, Canada has been undergoing a gradual process of transformation in the last two decades, marked by the increasing incorporation of fashion design as a competitive strategy. This article explores the role played by a trade association intermediary, the Fur Council of Canada, to promote this design-led form of development. In particular, it examines a series of initiatives undertaken by the Fur Council in collaboration with other actors to promote greater links, or ‘local pipelines’, between the fashion and fur industries. Drawing primarily on semi-structured interviews, the article draws particular attention to efforts to reduce the cognitive distance between potential pipeline actors as a basis for pipeline construction.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]


Assessing Overall Network Structure in Regional Innovation Policies: A Case Study of Cluster Policy in the West Midlands in the UK

By : Shaowei He, Stewart MacNeill and Jinmin Wang. European Planning Studies, Volume 22, Issue 9, Pages 1940-1959, 2014.

Abstract: « Revisiting the theoretical roots of the key concepts of “embeddedness” and “networks” that underpin many recent regional innovation polices, this paper strives to achieve a more systematic understanding of the overall network structure of geographic agglomerations, which helps to form a more convincing model of regional development based on learning. This also helps to establish an analytical framework with indicators to assess the overall network structure in regional innovation policies. Employing the framework, the examination of cluster policy in the West Midlands highlights its weakness in addressing the overall cluster network structure and the contingent factors influencing the structure. The analysis suggests that there may be similar weaknesses in other regional innovation policies and the theories underpinning them as they share a common weakness in addressing the structural characteristics of overall networks.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Multinational subsidiary knowledge protection—Do mandates and clusters matter?

By : Wolfgang Sofka, Edlira Shehu, Pedro de Faria. Research Policy, Volume 43, Issue 8, Pages 1320–1333, 2014.

Abstract: « International knowledge spillovers, especially through multinational companies (MNCs), have recently been a major topic of academic and management debate. However, most studies treat MNC subsidiaries as relatively passive actors. We challenge this assumption by investigating the drivers of knowledge protection intensity of MNC subsidiaries. We argue that knowledge protection intensity is determined by MNC subsidiary mandates and by opportunities and risks originating from the host region. We hypothesize that not just competence-creating but also competence-exploiting mandates increase knowledge protection intensity. In addition, technological cluster regions in the host country can be expected to provide opportunities for knowledge sourcing and MNC subsidiaries may be willing to protect knowledge less intensively to participate in cluster networks. We test our hypotheses using a dataset of 694 observations of 631 MNC subsidiaries in Germany and develop recommendations for research, managers and policy makers.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


The creation of knowledge: local building, global accessing and economic development—toward an agenda

By : Harald Bathelt and Patrick Cohendet. Journal of Economic Geography, Volume 14, Issue 5, Pages 869-882, 2014.

Abstract : «This article argues that local knowledge building and global (nonlocal) knowledge-accessing practices in economic development are intrinsically interwoven. They generate fundamental feedback loops, which are channeled through and lead to ongoing knowledge circulation. To better understand the nature of the specific mechanisms and conditions underlying these processes, three key areas of research are identified for current and future research. These are related to (i) creative agents and the nature of local creative processes, (ii) community formation and local creativity from ideas to market penetration and (iii) temporary gatherings as translocal knowledge platforms.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Epistemic communities, localization and the dynamics of knowledge creation

By : Patrick Cohendet, David Grandadam, Laurent Simon and Ignasi Capdevila. Journal of Economic Geography, Volume 14, Issue 5, Pages 929-954, 2014.

Abstract : «This article aims to clarify how epistemic communities dynamically shape the process of knowledge creation in a localized context and how the evolving interaction between different members of these communities enables knowledge to transit from its locus of emergence to the global market. It is argued that these dynamics rest on a series of clashes between different frames of reference, which enables bits of knowledge to be progressively revealed, enhanced, nurtured, interpreted and enacted collectively.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Skew Productivity Distributions and Agglomeration: Evidence from Plant-Level Data

By : Toshihiro Okubo and Eiichi Tomiura. Regional Studies, Volume 48, Issue 9, Pages 1514-1528, 2014.

Abstract: « This paper empirically examines how the shapes of plant productivity distributions vary across regions based on Japan's manufacturing census. It focuses on the skewness to examine the asymmetry by estimating the gamma distribution at the plant level. By linking the estimated shape parameters with economic geography variables, it is found that the productivity distribution tends to be significantly left skewed, especially in cores, regions with diversified industrial compositions, regions with weak market potential and in agglomerated industries. These findings suggest that agglomeration economies are likely to accommodate heterogeneous plants with wide ranges of productivities.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Innovation Governance Nexuses: Mapping Local Governments' University–Industry Relations and Specialization in High Technology in Sweden

By : Stefan Szücs and Olof Zaring. European Planning Studies, Volume 22, Issue 9, Pages 1769-1782, 2014.

Abstract: « In this paper, we take as a point of departure an assumption that innovation governance matters as a local and regional policy instrument, and consequently we investigate whether local policy can be linked to local industry. To do this, we use Swedish survey data on policy and high-tech agglomeration at the level of municipalities and present evidence on innovation governance nexuses, i.e. locations with greater industrial specialization paired with stronger formalization of innovation governance. Theoretically, this paper follows the literature on regional advantage, but a novel approach is used in which innovation governance literature is linked to that advantage. The findings indicate that these types of policy instruments are useful by creating networks that channel and direct resource and knowledge flows, particularly at locations with higher education institutions.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


The geographical dimension of innovation collaboration: Networking and innovation in Norway

By : Rune Dahl Fitjar and Andrés Rodríguez-Pose. Urban Studies, Volume 51, Issue 12, Pages 2572-2595, 2014.

Abstract: « This paper looks at the geographical dimension of firm networking in Norway, by examining the impact of manager-level, firm-level and regional-level variables on the decisions of firms to collaborate with partners at different levels of geographical distance. Using data stemming from a survey of 1604 businesses in five Norwegian city-regions, we model firms’ use of partners located within the region, elsewhere in the country and abroad, respectively. The results indicate that collaboration is affected in different ways by variables related to all three levels. At the level of the manager, trust is an important predictor of regional and national collaboration, but has no significant effect on the formation of international partnerships, which are fundamentally associated with factors such as education and the open-mindedness of managers. At the regional level, R&D expenditure tends to increase collaboration between regional actors, but reduces the likelihood of engagement with international partners. Education, by contrast, has the opposite effect: it encourages international collaboration at the expense of local links. The results highlight the need to balance policies for boosting regional social capital and R&D with investments in education and fostering open-mindedness as a means to prevent lock-in and develop innovation-enhancing global pipelines.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Mapping the Geography of R&D: What Can We Learn for Regional Innovation Policy in the Czech Republic and Beyond?

By : Martin Srholec and Pavla Žížalová. European Planning Studies, Volume 22, Issue 9, Pages 1862-1878, 2014.

Abstract: « Administrative regions do not necessarily correspond to areas that are homogenous in terms of innovation intensity. Although this has been recognized in the literature, quantitative evidence that explicitly considers this problem is rare. Using spatial exploratory analysis on detailed regional data derived from a census of R&D performers in the Czech Republic, we identify local spatial clusters of R&D activities and assess the extent of their (mis)match with administrative borders. Overall, the results support the arguments for regionalization of innovation policy. However, the existing policy units do not appear well suited for this purpose. On one hand, there is a need for policy coordination between multiple administrative regions. On the other hand, however, there are diverse patterns within them. Similar problems are likely to haunt the regionalization process in many other countries, which is alarming, as the regional accent of innovation policies becomes ever more vehement over time.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]


Science or graduates: How do firms benefit from the proximity of universities?

By : Bart Leten, Paolo Landoni, Bart Van Looy. Research Policy, Volume 43, Issue 8, Pages 1398–1412, 2014.

Abstract: « This paper examines the impact of universities on the technological performance of adjacent firms. We extend existing research by jointly analyzing, and comparing, the effects of education (graduates) and scientific research (publications) activities of universities on firms’ technological performance. Adopting the knowledge production framework, our study is conducted at the level of 101 Italian territorial areas (provinces) and four industries. Overall, fixed-effect panel data models reveal a positive effect of both university graduates and scientific publications on the technological performance of firms. At the same time, considerable industry differences are observed. While the provision of university graduates positively affects firm performance in all industries under study, additional effects for scientific research are only observed in electrical and pharmaceutical industries that are science-intensive and where the scientific knowledge base is changing rapidly over time. The observation that spillovers from academia into the industrial texture of provinces rely on education and research in an industry-specific manner is relevant to the design of appropriate research and innovation policies.» [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHORS]