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How can policy makers create industrial clusters?

This project, financed by the Norwegian Research Council's FORFI programme, will investigate how policy makers can create industrial clusters without losing sight on questions of regional development. Through a comprehensive analysis of selected cluster initiatives in Norway we will provide theoretical and empirical knowledge both on how to better measure cluster results and how to design smarter and better cluster programs.

There is a tendency in the literature to reduce the development of a cluster to a linear development. Our point of departure is that cluster development must be viewed as a fluent and complex process that does not follow a pre-given trajectory. Cluster ideas, cluster policy and materialized cluster practice are interwoven in the various phases of the development giving rise to changing representations and changing networks within the cluster.

Second, in most of the cluster literature it is taken for granted that clusters affect regional development in a positive way. But we know little about how the specialization of clusters relates to an advantageous regional development. Increased specialization of a cluster can narrow firm’s field of competence and the scale and scope of their network.

To measure what works and what doesn't work in cluster policy we opt for combining quantitative and qualitative methods in a four step framework. First, we intend to map the changing networks conditions through quantitative methods focusing on the scale and scope of firm relations. We will select two projects in the Arena program and two projects in the NCE program as our case studies. Second, we link such changes of networks to changing representations of clusters. The third step turn to the question on how such changes in network/representations influence on the cluster development, will it prosper or will it fade out. Finally, we will elaborate on how our findings can inform cluster instruments in dealing with cluster construction and regional development.


Economic geography, Economics


Norwegian Research Council - FORFI (Kunnskapsgrunnlaget for forsknings- og innovasjonspolitikken)

Contact information

Prof. Stig-Erik Jakobsen
Centre for innovation
Bergen University College
Post box 7030
5020 Bergen