Spatial clustering and industrial competitiveness : Studies in economic geography

Abstract: This thesis deals with the causes and effects of spatial clustering of similar and related economic activity. The relationship between spatial clustering and industrial competitive-ness is analysed in a series of empirical studies, revolving around four research questions: How useful is an institutional approach in analyses of spatial clustering? Can the link between spatial clustering and industrial performance be empirically validated and measured by quantitative methods? In what sense does spatial clustering promote localised processes of learning and innovation? What role can industrial and regional policies play in promoting the type of localised processes emphasised in spatial clustering research?It proves to be a rather complicated matter to measure the impact of spatial clustering on firm performance. In the case of export-oriented manufacturing firms in Sweden, the co-location of firms in a particular industry appears to have only a modest impact on export performance. However, when a more qualitative approach is applied, there is some evidence that spatial clustering can have a positive impact. A study of the Swedish music industry indicates that there is indeed a link between the concentration of music-related businesses in the Stockholm region and localised processes of learning and innovation. Such localised processes appear, in turn, to be linked to the ability to create and sustain industrial competitiveness. Finally, the thesis examines how the cluster concept has been put into practice in Swedish industrial and regional policies.