Cluster policy is at the crossroads as governments widely support the local agglomeration of companies and research institutes, but success or failure seems arbitrary for those ‘Silicon Somewheres’. Faced with limited proof of ‘what works’ for clusters, frustration is spreading among policy makers and stakeholders. The study offers a comparative analysis of high-technology clusters around the globe with the objective of finding a generalizable mechanism for making cluster policy successful. Interviews conducted with officials, researchers and industry stakeholders in Chicago, Copenhagen, Singapore and Vancouver reveal that networks have found a novel way of cluster support by having a ‘facilitator’. This network management institution or individual is able to connect and support cluster stakeholders while simultaneously linking them to government with the goal of better tailored policy and ultimately more successful innovative processes. The dissertation offers a new theoretical framework for investigating the facilitation mechanism based on intersecting science and technology policy, network management and innovation systems literature. The study highlights the fact that the key to success is the creation of capacity for networking (collaborative capacity) and identifying useful knowledge, knowledge gaps and future developments (absorptive capacity) rather than focusing solely on output. The central findings are threefold: Not only does facilitation exist in different parts of the world, it also enhances performance and varies depending on location. The variations include a government- and stakeholder-funded model in most European countries, an independent model in North America and finally, a government-financed model in Asia.
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Thesis advisor: Howlett, Michael
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