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Emergence and development of low-tech clusters: an empirical study of five Palestinian clusters

Suhail Sultan (Faculty of Business and Economics, Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestinian Authority)
Meine Pieter van Dijk (Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Omar Omran (Faculty of Business and Economics, Birzeit University, Birzeit, Palestinian Authority)

EuroMed Journal of Business

ISSN: 1450-2194

Article publication date: 18 May 2020

Issue publication date: 22 June 2020




This study aims to analyze the nature of challenges facing five low-tech Palestinian small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clusters and to understand their dynamics. The study proposes a number of key policies necessary to foster start-ups and the growth of the current clusters.


Five low-tech Palestinian clusters were selected for investigation. Using multiple sources of evidence, the research questions are answered using a case study approach. Twelve semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with representatives from the government, private sector and universities. Content analysis was used to analyze the data obtained from the interviews.


These five low-tech clusters in Palestine are located in a complex environment that imposes a mix of challenges which adversely affect their performance. The challenges facing Palestinian clusters are different in terms of their degree of complexity. The common challenges facing the Palestinian low-tech SME clusters are the fundamental lack of innovative stimulation policies or of incentives in the Palestinian ecosystem, lack of trust, unfair competition, limited access to finance, lack of access to promising markets and the limited collaboration between different parties. More focused policies are suggested to the Palestinian authorities.

Practical implications

Clusters represent a new and complementary way of understanding an economy, organizing economic development, enhancing competitiveness and innovation through sectoral specialization and cooperation and implementing public policies. In the overwhelming majority of Palestinian entities categorized as SMEs, clustering adds value to the firms from the point of view of productivity and by battling unemployment, which is rampant among Palestinian youth.


Even though the issue of clusters in SMEs has been well researched in developed countries, empirical studies are still lacking in this developing region. The attention given to policies in this article allows using the insights gained for cluster development in Palestine.



The authors would like to thank Zamaleh Fellowship Program for their support.


Sultan, S., van Dijk, M.P. and Omran, O. (2020), "Emergence and development of low-tech clusters: an empirical study of five Palestinian clusters", EuroMed Journal of Business, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 129-149.



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