Dirk Fornahl, Sebastian Henn and Max-Peter Menzel (eds.): Emerging Clusters: Theoretical, Empirical and Political Perspectives on the Initial Stage of Cluster Evolution. Cheltenham et al. 2010. 373 S.

The large number of works already published on the cluster issue in recent years inevitably raises the questions: What has this volume to offer in terms of scientific value added? Does it deliver insights that reach beyond those reported several times before?

There is good news to tell right in the beginning: This book, outcome of a workshop at the Max Planck Institute of Economics in 2008, highlights certain facets of cluster development that have not been addressed in such profundity before and reveals dynamics that bear inspiring policy relevance. The authors, all of them distinguished experts (from Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Israel, the USA and Canada), focus on the initial formation, hence the genesis and ‘creation’ of clusters. This heralds the important debate on whether clusters can actually be ‘made’, and by which means. The 13 chapters, which are grouped into four parts, explore the conceptual scope of the central theme and deliver empirical evidence from various regional and sector case studies. In their introduction, the editors Fornahl, Henn and Menzel set the stage by summarising insights from previous research that prove useful for conceptualising cluster formation and its determinants. They discern three major fields of debate, which are also reflected in the book’s logical structure and the focus of its aparts: ‘Accidents, Path Dependency and Strategic Action’, ‘Institutions and Endogenous Dynamics’, and ‘Patterns of Emergence and Growth’. The fourth part on ‘Cluster Emergence and Emergence of Cluster Politics’ separately addresses issues of application. The stimulating tensions between accidental and strategic sources of cluster emergence are elucidated by Cooke’s depiction of ‘railroadisation’

forces exemplified by green technology clusters in four countries, by Dorenkamp and Mossig explaining the emergence of German clusters of TV broadcasting, and Henn and Laureys’ story of the strategic (re)making of the Antwerp diamond cluster. Then the co-evolution of institutions and endogenous dynamics is explored through contributions by Otto and Fornahl on the role of labour markets in unfolding audiovisual media clusters in Germany, Avnimelech and Teubal on the influence of Venture Capital provision on ICT cluster development in Israel, and Perez-Aleman on the importance of standardisation institutions for the rise of salmon industry clusters in Chile. The next part sets a spotlight on patterns of firm formation and growth, looking at windows of opportunity and spin-off dynamics shaping the Amsterdam banking cluster (Boschma and Ledder), academic spinoff activities in two technology clusters in the USA (Patton and Kenney), second-generation growth patterns in German biochip production clusters (Menzel), and the genealogy of the Cambridge inkjet-printing cluster (Garnsey, Stam and Thomas). Finally, Sternberg and Kiese each discuss policy approaches towards cluster formation, comparing ten technology regions in five countries and, respectively, investigating diffusion channels of cluster policies in Germany. Overall, the book succeeds in creating a compromise between setting a unifying theme, which provides focus and underscores scientific relevance, and offering room for a range of views, methods and interpretations. Even readers who already know a lot about cluster development find additional inspiration.
Martina Fromhold-Eisebith

Quelle: Die Erde, 142. Jahrgang, 2011, Heft 3, S. 323-324

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