CLUSTERS: A MESMERISING MANTRA

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

This paper argues that the cluster model of local economic growth is model that became a message that is now a mantra. It is an approach that has extended its explanatory reach through the accretion of layers of contingency. The paper suggests seven major limitations that undermine the explanatory power of what is now a mesmeric policy prescription for local economic development. It neglects the imperatives of capitalism, underestimates of the impact of unequal power relations on business relationships, fails to incorporate time, fetishises proximity, treats entrepreneurship simplistically, promotes the chaotic concept of institutional thickness, and is limited by the chaotic concept of social capital. It is concluded that a more nuanced and empirically grounded approach to agglomerated local growth is needed and a set of research questions is suggested.

Keywords: Enterprise; clusters; institutional thickness; local economic growth; power; proximity; social capital

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9663.2009.00583.x

Affiliations: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK., Email: M.J.Taylor@bham.ac.uk

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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