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Creating shared value and clusters: The case of an Italian cluster initiative in food waste prevention

Fernando G. Alberti (Institute for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness, Universita’ Cattaneo LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)
Federica Belfanti (Universita Carlo Cattaneo, Castellanza, Italy)

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 21 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims at reconciling the literature on creating shared value (CSV) with the one on cluster development, searching for complementarities and similarities. Second, it aims at understanding the role of cluster development in CSV. For these reasons, the authors operationalized the general idea of cluster development with the widely accepted concept of cluster initiatives, i.e. systematic efforts aimed at cluster development. The authors focused on exploring the process of launching and supporting local cluster initiatives through empirical evidence. In particular, the authors aimed at analyzing how a CSV strategy can be defined and developed when adopted within a cluster initiative.


The research draws on a critical review of the literature focusing on CSV and on a conceptual reconciliation between the literature on the CSV ecosystem with the one on clusters, and more specifically on those initial cluster initiatives. The authors relied on an exploratory case study of an Italian cluster initiative in CSV, i.e. the Science and Innovation Food District (SIFooD) cluster promoted by Whirlpool. Thanks to the richness and great availability of information about the case, this study primarily relied on the use of secondary data.


The case of SIFooD has highlighted how Whirlpool promoted the cluster initiative within its CSV framework to achieve sustainable and collaborative innovation in food waste prevention and, conversely, how SIFooD enhanced CSV of its cluster members. To arrange its network development process, SIFooD has implemented all the elements that prior literature has considered fundamental for launching and supporting a successful cluster initiative. On the other hand, SIFooD was able to adopt a collective-impact approach, implementing the five elements needed in its ecosystem to create shared value. Moreover, thanks to all the activities comprised in the SIFooD cluster initiative, shared value was actually created.

Research limitations/implications

The present paper has some limitations. First of all, the empirical analysis focuses only on one cluster initiative; thus, cross/comparative analyses with other cluster initiatives may illuminate the findings better. Second, the authors relied on a very recent cluster initiative in a particular field (food waste prevention) and in one specific institutional context (Italy); thus, data may suffer from temporal, industrial and geographical biases.


Literature on the border between CSV and clusters is still in its infancy and almost nothing is known about their relationship, despite them being intimately related since the inception of this field. The paper qualifies for a very first attempt to understand how firms promote clusters, through cluster initiatives, for the sake of CSV and how clusters may enhance CSV of firms.



Alberti, F.G. and Belfanti, F. (2019), "Creating shared value and clusters: The case of an Italian cluster initiative in food waste prevention", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 39-60.



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