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Effect of cluster initiatives and natural clusters on business performance

Miroslav Zizka (Faculty of Economics, Technical University of Liberec, Liberec, Czech Republic)
Eva Stichhauerova (Faculty of Economics, Technical University of Liberec, Liberec, Czech Republic)

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 23 August 2022

Issue publication date: 1 November 2023




This study aims to determine how much company participation in a type of cluster affects its economic performance.


This study includes companies operating in seven industries (automotive, engineering, textiles, information technology (IT) services, furniture, packaging and nanotechnology) in the Czech Republic. The companies are divided into three groups: members of institutionalized cluster, operating in the same region (natural clusters) and operating in other regions. Data envelopment window analysis is used to measure their performance for 2009–2019.


Results show that the effect of clustering differs among industries. Companies in three industries (automotive, engineering, nanotechnology) reveal a positive impact of the cluster initiative on performance growth. Two industries (textile, packaging) with companies operating in a natural cluster show better performance than those in an institutionalized cluster. Moreover, the IT services and the furniture industries show no positive effect of clustering on corporate performance.

Research limitations/implications

This research includes 686 companies from seven industries and monitored for 11 years. On the one hand, the sample includes a relatively high number of companies overall; but on the other hand, the sample is relatively small, especially for nonclustered companies. The reason is the lack of available financial statements for small companies.

Practical implications

From the perspective of practical cluster policy, the authors can recommend that monitoring the performance of member companies in clusters must be one of the criteria for evaluating the success of a cluster, such as cluster initiatives.


This study distinguishes between long-standing natural clusters in a given industry and institutionalized ones that have emerged because of a top-down initiative. An original database is created for clustered and nonclustered companies in seven industries, covering the entire Czech Republic.



This study was supported by grant no. GA18-01144S “An empirical study of the existence of clusters and their effect on the performance of member enterprises” of the Czech Science Foundation.


Zizka, M. and Stichhauerova, E. (2023), "Effect of cluster initiatives and natural clusters on business performance", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 1118-1144.



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