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The Role of Local Linkages and Global Buzz within Cluster Renewal and Replacement

Authors: Phil Tomlinson*, University of Bath, Felicia M Fai, University of Bath , James R Branston, University of Bath
Topics: Economic Geography, Regional Geography, Regional Geography
Keywords: Innovation, cluster life cycle, evolutionary geography, trade fairs
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In their Modified Cluster Adaptive Cycle Model (MCACM), Martin and Sunley (2011) conceptually identify six possible evolutionary pathways for clusters, and call for empirical and conceptual explorations to detail the micro-processes of cluster evolution. This paper attempts to do so, in the context of the UK’s North Staffordshire ceramics cluster. Drawing upon the MCACM, we examine how strengthening local linkages and access to global buzz at international trade fairs, appears to be helping stem the long-running demise of this traditional cluster. Using mixed methods, we find empirical support for the model’s propositions that: system adaptability is not exclusively episodic, nor is the release of resources caused only by an exogenous shock, and downward and upward causation pressures interact. We also indicate some areas within the model that require further conceptual clarification and empirical detailing, and provide some suggestions for additional cluster dynamics. The perspective lent by the model indicates to policymakers that there can be gains from continued investment in local and global knowledge sharing activities even when an aged cluster appears to be in decline.

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