The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1816–1839 | Cite as

Structural dynamics of innovation networks in German Leading-Edge Clusters

  • Stefan Töpfer
  • Uwe Cantner
  • Holger GrafEmail author


We study the effects of a German national cluster policy on the structure of collaboration networks. The empirical analysis is based on original data that was collected in fall 2011 and late summer 2013 with cluster actors (firms and public research organizations) who received government funding. Our results show that over time the program was effective in initiating new cooperation between cluster actors and in intensifying existing linkages. A substantial share of the newly formed linkages is among actors who did not receive direct funding for a joint R&D project, which indicates a mobilization effect. Furthermore, we observe differential developments regarding clusters’ spatial embeddedness. Some clusters tend to increase their localization, whereas others increase their connectivity to international partners. Changes in centrality are mainly determined by initial positions in the network, but the determinants of these changes differ substantially between clusters.


Cluster Innovation policy Evaluation Social network analysis 

JEL Classification

O38 L14 R10 R32 



The study was financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for the research project “Begleitende Evaluierung des Spitzencluster-Wettbewerbs”. Stefan Töpfer thankfully acknowledges the German Research Foundation (DFG) for providing a scholarship within the DFG-GRK 1411 “The Economics of Innovative Change”. We wish to thank two anonymous referees, members the research group DFG-GRK 1411, as well as participants at the 15th Conference of the International Schumpeter Society in Jena, the DRUID Conference in Rome, and the Workshop on “Clusterforschung und Evaluierung von Clusterpolitiken” in Berlin for helpful comments and suggestions. All remaining errors are our own.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Department of Marketing and ManagementUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdense MDenmark

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