Clusters and Knowledge Economy

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Clusters and Knowledge Economy
Put simply, clusters are geographically close groups of interrelated specialized organizations. Two main historic reasons for industrial clusters were: easy knowledge exchange and the availability of skilled labor. I believe the arrival of the knowledge economy including all its communication technologies decreases the need for traditional regional clusters.

Regional proximity
Decrease the need: yes. But not end it: there are still valid reasons for regional clusters remaining.

Special Interest Group on Clusters
Specialized business communities such as those on 12manage could be seen as a new type of clusters, without the need for geographical proximity. Make sure you are part of the SIG on Clusters at 12manage and Register ;-)

Cooperation and Competition
I agree with Bertrand. We are seeing new types of clusters arriving without national or regional borders. Note that firms within clusters may be cooperative or competitive or even independent. This aspect remains unchanged in internet / knowledge economy.

Three types of clusters
Edmund L.
We can distinguish at least three industrial cluster types:
1. SKILL CLUSTERS: With similar skill requirements
2. VALUE CHAIN CLUSTERS: Part of same value (supply) chain
3. INNOVATION CLUSTERS: firms that exchange key information leading to technological advances and competitive improvements.
In the knowledge era the category 1 and 3 seem most important.

Normally, "Clusters" of organizations are per definition geographically close. For the virtual variants without this aspect I recommend the term "Hubs" or "Nodes" or "Networks" or "Business Webs" or indeed "Communities" as on 12manage.

Still need for local action
Sharing knowledge and information today is global. Yet, understanding it, and turning it into actions, still needs regional knowledge and skills.

4 Cluster Drivers
1 Geography - Location
2 Horizontal - other inter firm networks
3 Vertical - Supply chain
4 Sector
For a cluster to exist I would argue that there needs to be interorganisational networking on at least two of these. Perhaps we need to rethink the entire proposition outside of the "industrial" perameter.


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