Business Clusters

Promoting Enterprise in Central and Eastern Europe

image of Business Clusters

Clusters of firms and related organisations in a range of industry specialisations are a striking feature of the economic landscape in all countries. Their growth and survival depends on internal processes of specialisation, co-operation and rivalry, and knowledge flows that underpin the competitiveness of the firms within them. Cluster building is now among the most important economic development activities in OECD countries and beyond. This book looks at the importance and potential of cluster initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe as these countries integrate ever more strongly into the global economy. Existing clusters are mapped, recent policy advances are described and conclusions are drawn on the potential of business clusters to foster economic growth in the wider Central, East and South East European region. 

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Social Capital

A Key Ingredient for Clusters in Post-Communist Societies

This chapter explores the role of social capital in shaping inter-firms relations within local clusters and identifies whether a lack of social capital can be considered an impediment to cluster formation and development in post-communist countries. It is important to note that despite offering a definition, this chapter does not provide one model of social capital, nor define one type of impact on cluster performance. Social capital is one element among many other determinants and studying the link between social capital and cluster performance does not mean asserting that social capital is a positive value per se for clusters. However, attention is focused on some major features that characterise social capital and that positively impact on business clusters development: a sound base of trust among economic and institutional actors, together with valued and acknowledged co-operation. The chapter is structured as follows: First, parallel definitions of social capital and clusters are provided; second, the links between the two concepts are analysed (in particular the impact of social capital on cluster building and performance); third, specific issues to postcommunist countries are raised; and lastly, a policy debate is initiated.


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