Dynamic Competitive of Geographic Clusters (Such as Micro Regional Systems) in the Generation of Innovative Capabilities

Dynamic Competitive of Geographic Clusters (Such as Micro Regional Systems) in the Generation of Innovative Capabilities

Tomas Gabriel Bas (Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Chile)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1646-2.ch001
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Innovation is understood as an interactive process of learning, and its usefulness in a region is reflected in the social, cultural, institutional, and territorial. From this point of view, the region’s competitive advantages are based on the development and subsequent use of resources and skills generated there. The author of this chapter analyzed the geographic clusters, to support local and regional development, assuming that each variety of these is different, both in its essence, its origins, and functions, to generate knowledge and innovation within a (micro) regional system of innovation.
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While the notion of cluster began to fall from studies by Alfred Marshall in 1890 (with its definition of “industrial district”), its more contemporary today reaches almost 100 years later, in the late 1980 through Michael Porter, who floated the importance of geographic clusters as sources of expertise and innovation (Porter, 1990). However, from more than two decades, many authors have been devoted to examining the theoretical and empirical aspects related to the clusters and their dynamics in the regions which possess them, analyzing them from different viewpoints (Cooke, 2001;Martin and Sunley, 2001; Niosi and Bas, 2001; 2003; Bas and Niosi, 2007). Some do it from impact and from national systems of innovation from other regional innovation systems or from local and inclusive systems, such as micro regional innovation systems. Some researchers have studied the geographical clusters based on natural resources (a small minority), while the vast majority did so on those based on more knowledge intensive (technology).

There is a wide difference of opinion as to the hierarchy of clusters (Bas and Kunc, 2009), if they are in developed countries or, if they are in developing countries. It is not the same as a country that bases its economy solely on the exploitation of natural resources (Chile, Argentina, New Zealand) with random which means that decision, being generally non-renewable resources and highly dependent on international market fluctuations (oil prices, pests, droughts, floods, abundance, scarcity, etc.), than that which bases its economy on knowledge and technology development (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan) with meaning in value added income that this decision has, in addition to being more predictable and stable markets in the long term, or finally those who do a mix of both structures (U.S., Canada, Australia; China), extracting the large returns generated.

Despite more than twenty years of analysis and research on contemporary clusters as a unifying element of skills, knowledge and innovation, we are far from reaching a consensus on its definition, its true utility and its dichotomy in relation to resource skills used and generated in its interior. There is thus a major difference, highly opposed in the interpretation of the dynamics and skills generated there.

However, despite the above, must be seen in the clusters to a major player in the generation of resources, skills and knowledge, both those based on natural resources such as those based on the latest technology or others. What it must be clear, is that cannot be pretend that the clusters will react universally to the same way of different environmental stimuli, cultural, regional, geographical or regulatory characteristic, as claimed by Michael Porter (Porter, 1990). If each tool that composes one cluster is different, each cluster will been different in consequence (Martin and Sunley, 2001).

Before determine the importance of geographic clusters for an industry or region, would have to test separately from the dynamics of its range of constituent elements (what we might call circuit of the competence, skills, knowledge, culture). Many scholars believe that the dynamics related to the returns of tacit and explicit knowledge, occurs more easily in regions that are close geographically. However, these regions should unite regardless of a high concentration of innovative activities and should also allow the accessibility and support from sources outside the cluster in a dynamic, interactive and cross-sectional, not to mention the complexity wrought by the asymmetries of power generated by within public and private institutions.

This chapter discusses the theoretical support related to the importance of the clusters seen as micro regional innovation systems. We analyze the framework of definitions in a sequence that starts with the innovation, skills, entrepreneurship, through the different habitats (national or regional) to reach the proper clusters and their dynamics in the development of regions. We wonder if the ability of firms to agglomerate around a geographic cluster (which in turn would act as a micro regional innovation system), increases the chances of a region to prosper, assuming that there is a difference based cluster in natural resources than one based on knowledge.

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