High-tech manufacturing clusters, knowledge specialisation and innovation systems

Authors: Markus Steen, Department of Technology Management, SINTEF Digital, Trondheim , Asbjørn Karlsen, Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Henrik Brynthe Lund*, Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Topics: Economic Geography
Keywords: clusters, innovation system, manufacturing, Industry 4.0
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The literature on cluster evolution and life-cycles has centred on firm populations and dynamics, and less on non-economic actors and factors contributing to cluster dynamics. There is, however, a quest for analysing co-evolution of clusters, technology and institutional environments, as well as extra-local influences on cluster evolution. This paper analyses the historical development of two small city high-tech manufacturing clusters in Norway (Raufoss and Kongsberg), with emphasis on co-evolution of the clusters and innovation systems. Historically, both towns were host to key state military-related industry, with large vertically integrated firms set up to cater to domestic needs for key national security and defence interests. Over time, both clusters have been subject to processes of vertical disintegration and spin-offs, inward international investments as well as cluster firms' acquisition of extra-local firms. Both clusters currently profile high-tech manufacturing firms selling their products to military, automotive, aerospace and offshore sub-sea industries.
By tracing the historical development of these clusters and analysing the relationship between industry dynamics (key firms, suppliers), public policies and interventions (at regional and state levels) and industry firm linkages to (local/non-local) knowledge institutions, this qualitative and historical case study contributes to the debate on co-evolution of technology, industry and knowledge institutions. The article demonstrates how the development of knowledge specialisation in the two clusters has led to distinct differences in both local and especially extra-local knowledge linkages. Additionally, the article sheds light on recent strategies for upgrading technological capabilities and organizing for advanced technology platforms associated with 'Industry 4.0'.

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