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The impact of smart specialization strategies on sub-cluster efficiency: simulation exercise for the case of Mexico

Viviana Elizabeth Zárate-Mirón (Center for Research in Economics, UPAEP, Puebla, Mexico)
Rosina Moreno Serrano (Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain)

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 13 September 2021




This paper aims to evaluate whether the integration of smart specialization strategies (S3) into clusters significantly impacts their efficiency for countries that still do not implement this policy. This study tests three effects: whether the kind of policies envisaged through an S3 strategy impacts cluster’s efficiency; whether this impact changes with the technological intensity of the clusters; to determine which S3 is more suitable for sub-clusters at different levels of technological intensity.


The Mexican economy is taken as case of study because it has a proper classification of its industries intro Porter’s cluster’s definition but still does not adopt the S3 policy. Through data envelopment analysis (DEA), this study evaluates the cluster’s efficiency increment when variables representing the S3 elements are included.


The results show that strategies following the S3 had a significant impact in all clusters, but when clusters were classified by technological intensity, the impact on efficiency is higher in clusters in the medium low-tech group.

Practical implications

According to the results in the DEA, it can be concluded that these S3 strategies have the potential to increase the clusters’ productivity significantly. These results make convenient the adoption of the S3 policy by countries that already count with a properly cluster definition.


These findings contribute to the lack of studies that analyze the join implementation of S3 on clusters.



Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología.



Zárate-Mirón, V.E. and Moreno Serrano, R. (2021), "The impact of smart specialization strategies on sub-cluster efficiency: simulation exercise for the case of Mexico", Competitiveness Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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