Research Project

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Despite increasing mobility of persons, goods, and information, the phenomenon of spatial concentration of economic activity apparently does not lose its relevance. Thus, clusters are a focal point for an economic policy for the regional and local level that aims at buttressing structural strengths. Such an economic policy is interesting both for developed and developing countries. If, however, cluster policy is to achieve the goals of enhancing growth and employment, it cannot be designed without knowledge of the functioning of clusters. In addition, policy levers to influence them need to be soundly established and critically assessed. In practice, this does not always seem to be the case. Rather, there is a gap between the academic and political communities.

Closing this gap is the main aim to which this project wants to contribute. On the basis of main lines of cluster-theory reasoning, it identifies several cluster mechanisms. They can account for the dynamic effects of clusters. The project appraises their relevance on the basis of their empirical discussion in the litature. In addition, it estimates their strengh on various spatial scales. It critically scrutinizes the degree to which they can be imfluenced by cluster policy. It assigns possible instruments of cluster policy to these mechanisms. Actors on different spatial scales can influence the mechanisms with their concrete contributions to these instruments. Therefore, the project develops a model of cluster policy for the regional and local level that can serve as a toolbox for the design of individual cluster-promotion strategies.

The project applied the model empirically in two case studies in Rosenheim, Germany, within the context of Bavarian cluster policy. Using the case studies' results and implications drawn from cluster-policy literature, the project draws conclusions for practical cluster-policy design.

The project was supported by a doctoral scholarship awarded by Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


Benner, Maximilian (2012): Cluster Policy: Ways to Link Theory and Political Implementation. Münster: LIT.

Benner, Maximilian (2012): Cluster Policy: Principles and a Toolbox. SPACES online, Vol. 10, Issue 2012-01. Toronto and Heidelberg:

Benner, Maximilian (2009): What do we know about clusters? In search of effective cluster policies. SPACES online, Vol. 7, Issue 2009-04. Toronto and Heidelberg.

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