From industrial districts to clusters.
Discussions on ‘flexible specialisation’, on local embedness and networks of firms have produced a literature based on a large number of concepts such as industrial districts, local productive systems, innovative milieus and clusters, and more recently, on learning regions and interactive learning, innovation networks, regional and local innovative systems, technology districts, local and regional competitiveness. They are closely related with the observation of a ‘resurgence of regional economies’ by Michael Storper. A large and more general literature was devoted to SMEs and their role in job creation, export and competitiveness, with or without reference to their local environment and ‘anchoring’ in local areas and to their contribution to the development of the place were they locate, such as the following example:
Ernst & Young 1999 Thematic evaluation of structural funds impacts on SMEs – Synthesis report for the Commission (DG REGIO), London
Researches were initiated inItaly on processes of ‘diffuse industrialisation’ in the Third Italy’s industrial districts – an old Marshallian concept which was ‘rediscovered’ by Prof Becattini and other Italian scholars (Bagnasco, Brusco Bellandi, Garofoli, etc) and closely related to SMEs studies. Italy was also the field work of major US academic – Sabel and Piorein their bookIndustrial Devise – on flexible specialisation, inter-firm cooperation and endogenous development. It was, largely disseminated across EU (and OECD) countries by international studies such as IILS/OIT and provoked a huge amount of research within economic geography and regional studies.
G.Beccatini, 1987 Mercato e forze locall: il distretto industriale, Il Mulino
Brusco, Sebastiano and Righi, E., ‘Local government and industrial policy in Modena’, in Economy and society, novembre 1989
G Garofoli e R Mazzoni. 1994 Sistemi produtivi locali: strutura e tarsformazioni. Franco Angeli, Milan,
Crunch etal 2001 Local Production systems in Europe, Oxford University Press,
Crouch et al 2004 Changing governance for Local Economies, responses of European Local Productive systems, Oxford University Press
W. Sengenberger (ed.) 1990 The Emergence of Small Enterprises; IILS
Pyke and W Sengenberger (eds.)1992 Industrial districts and Local economic Regeneration. IILS Geneva,
L.Guiso & F Scivardi, 2007 Spillovers in industrial Districts, Economic Journal,117, p; 577
With extensive research in many countries and on services, the notion of local productive systems emerged as less specific than the Italian context and referring to more diversified forms of aggregation of local firms and of ‘core or distinctive competencies’.
OECD and DATAR 2001 and 2002 Systèmes productifs locaux, International Conference reports, Paris.
An important contribution was provided by the Groupe de Recherche Européen sur les Milieux Innovateurs (GREMI) research programmes on ‘innovative milieux’, defined as environmental, cognitive and organisational place within which local firms can get access to technological resources and operate within networks. They point out that technology is not a residual factor but a contextual and endogenous one, largely adopted locally because of proximity and acquired through cumulative mutual learning, according to the need of local firms and their past accumulated experience and skills.
P. Aydalot (ed.)1986 Milieux innovateurs en Europe
R.Camagni (ed.) 1991 Innovation Networks: spatial perspectives, Belhaven Press, London
D. Maillat et J.C. Perrin (ed.) 1992 Entreprises innovatrices et développement territorial, EDES Neuchâtel
D. Maillat, M. Quévit, L. Sen (ed.) 1993 Réseaux d’innovation : un pari pour le développement regionalEDES, Neuchâtel
Research was introduced and publicized by Michael Porter, who identified traded clusters, local service clusters and resource clusters.
Porter M Nov-Dec1998 Clusters and the new economics of competitionHarvard Business Review,
Porter M 1990 The comparative advantage of nations, basic books,
Porter M 2000 The cluster mapping project; Harvard Institute for Competitiveness,
In the EU, an significant amount of research was devoted to clusters:
Enright M.J. 1996 ‘Regional clusters and economic Development, a research agenda’, in U.H.Staber et al (eds.) Business networks: prospects for Economic Development, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin,
Roelandt, T. and den Hertog, P., Ed. 1998 Cluster Analysis and Cluster Based OECD Countries: Various Approaches, Early Results and Policy Implications. Draft synthesis report on Phase 1, OECD Focus Group on Industrial Clusters.
P. Belleflame (et al) 2000 An Economic theory of regional cluster, Journal of Urban Economics, 48, p 161.C.
Ketels 2000 The development of the Cluster concept, present experiences and further Developments
OECD 2001 Innovative clusters,
EC 2003 Final Report of the Expert group on Enterprise clusters and Networks, Brussels
P. Raines (ed.) 2003 Cluster Development and Policy., Ashgate, Aldershot,
A.Isaksen and E.Haug 2002 Regional Clusters in Europe. EC, SMEs Observatory
Martin R, Sunley P 2003 Deconstructing clusters: chaotic concept or policy panacea? Journal of Economic Geography, vol.3 n.1
DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) 2003 A Practical Guide to Cluster Development
T. Anderson (et al.) 2004 The cluster policy whitebook, IKED, Malmö
O.Solvell (et al) 2003 The Cluster initiative Green book,; Göteborg, Competitiveness Institute TCI Vinniva
DIACT , Pôles de compétitivité
Jouen M 2008 ‘Endogenous Local Development versus Foreign Direct Investment Strategies: are there alternative regional strategies in EU 27?’ in Where top-down, where bottom-up?, in Silke Tönshoff and Andreas Weida Eds., Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang