Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to advance understanding of regional industry or innovation clusters and the opportunities that the cluster framework provides policymakers for delivering economic impact, clarifying economic priorities, and coordinating disparate programmatic efforts, and to articulate some basic principles for formulating cluster strategies.
Methodology/approach – As the cluster concept enters its third decade and the body of related literature reaches a new level of maturity a consensus has emerged among academics and policy thinkers on the economic benefits of clusters. In fact, clusters have emerged as major focus of economic and policy discussion just now – in what the authors dub a “cluster moment” – by dint of their demonstrated practical impact, their value in paradigm discussions, and their potential utility in policy reform. The chapter reviews the benefits of clusters and traces their ascendance – and re-emergence post-recession – among policy thinkers.
Findings – New research confirms that strong clusters tend to deliver positive benefits to workers, firms, and regions. As a paradigm, they reflect the nature of the real economy and as a matter of policymaking, clusters provide a framework for rethinking and refocusing economic policy. In pursuing cluster-based economic development strategies, policy leaders should not try to create clusters; use data to target interventions, drive design, and track performance; focus initiatives on addressing discrete gaps in performance or binding constraints on cluster growth; maximize impact by leveraging pre-existing cluster-relevant programs; align efforts vertically as well as horizontally; and let the private sector lead. All three tiers of the nation's federalist system have distinct and complementary roles to play in advancing the cluster paradigm.
Research limitations/implications (if applicable) – The paper includes no new/original data.
Practical implications (if applicable) – Given that clusters have emerged as a major focus of economics and policy, this chapter lays out a core set of general principles for pursuing cluster-based economic development strategies – and for avoiding common pitfalls – to which policymakers can adhere.
Originality/value of paper – The chapter advances cluster thinking and cluster strategies as a paradigm with the potential to accelerate regional economic growth and assist with the nation's needed restructuring and rebalancing toward a more productive post-recession economy.
Muro, M. and Katz, B. (2011), "Chapter 5 The New “Cluster Moment”: How Regional Innovation Clusters can Foster the Next Economy", Libecap, G.D. and Hoskinson, S. (Ed.) Entrepreneurship and Global Competitiveness in Regional Economies: Determinants and Policy Implications (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Growth, Vol. 22), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 93-140. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1048-4736(2011)0000022008
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