Aihie Osarenkhoe, Daniella Fjellström

Clusters’ Vital Role in Promoting International Competitive Advantage - Towards an Explanatory Model of Regional Growth

This work responds to calls to expand the study of inter-firm relationships beyond the narrow dyadic relationship focus and sole concentration on conceptualizing collaborations as firms’ strategic intent to implement mechanistic growth strategy. The objective is to map the salient features of existing clusters and how firms perceive the benefits of clusters by asking: How are the collaborative networks of private and public partnerships organized to enhance the competitiveness of all the stakeholders in a cluster? And how do these actors perceive the usefulness of clustering? The theoretical lens builds on viewing cluster initiatives as an interactive learning process and something that occurs in the interaction between actors as competitiveness is born through reshuffling resources both inside and outside of the firm, and takes into account value creation. The methodology draws on focus groups and surveys conducted in Swedish clusters. The findings show the perceived benefits of cluster initiatives to be networking, dialogue and experience exchange. The implications are that the relationships firms form in a cluster constitute critical avenues for acquiring resources and knowledge to enhance competitiveness, and bridges to other clusters in other countries. An explanatory model of clusters and regional competitiveness that emerged from our findings is presented.

Keywords: clusters; networking; international competitiveness; strategic network; open innovation

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