Evaluating the Role of Clusters for Innovation and Growth in Europe

  • Andrés Rodríguez-PoseEmail author
  • Fabrice Comptour
Part of the Advances in Spatial Science book series (ADVSPATIAL)


The analysis of clusters has attracted considerable interest over the last few decades. The articulation of clusters into complex networks and systems of innovation – generally known as regional innovation systems – has, in particular, been associated with the delivery of greater innovation and growth. However, despite the growing economic and policy relevance of clusters, little systematic research has been conducted into their association with other factors promoting innovation and economic growth. This chapter addresses this issue by looking at the relationship between innovation and economic growth in 152 regions of Europe during the period between 1995 and 2006. Using an econometric model with a static and a dynamic dimension, the results of the analysis highlight that: (a) regional growth through innovation in Europe is fundamentally connected to the presence of an adequate socioeconomic environment and, in particular, to the existence of a well-trained and educated pool of workers; (b) the presence of clusters matters for regional growth, but only in combination with a good ‘social filter’, and this association wanes in time; (c) more traditional R&D variables have a weak initial connection to economic development, but this connection increases over time and, is, once again, contingent on the existence of adequate socioeconomic conditions.


Clusters Economic growth European Union Innovation Regional innovation systems 


  1. Abramovitz M (1986) Catching up, forging ahead, and falling behind. J Econ Hist 46:385–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abramovitz M (1990) The catch-up factor in postwar economic growth. Econ Enquiry 28:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aghion P (2006) A primer on innovation and growth. Bruegel policy brief, Issue 2006/06, Oct 2006. Available at
  4. Anselin L, Varga A, Acs Z (1997) Local geographic spillovers between university research and high technology innovations. J Urban Econ 42:422–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aydalot P (1986) Milieux innovateurs en Europe. GREMI, ParisGoogle Scholar
  6. Baptista R, Swann P (1998) Do firms in clusters innovate more? Res Policy 27:525–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bathelt H, Malmberg A, Maskell P (2004) Clusters and knowledge: local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Prog Hum Geog 28:31–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becattini G (1987) Mercato e forze locali. Il distretto industriale. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  9. Braczyk HJ, Cooke P, Heidenreich M (1998) Regional innovation systems. UCL Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Camagni R (1995) The concept of innovative milieu and its relevance for public policies in European lagging regions. Pap Reg Sci 74:317–340Google Scholar
  11. Capello R (1999) Spatial transfer of knowledge in high technology milieux: learning versus collective learning processes. Reg Stud 33:353–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cheshire P, Malecki EJ (2004) Growth, development, and innovation: a look backward and forward. Pap Reg Sci 83:249–267Google Scholar
  13. Cooke P (2001) Regional innovation systems, clusters, and the knowledge economy. Ind Corp Ch 10:945–974CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cooke P (2006) Regional innovation systems as public goods, publication of UNIDO Strategic Research and Economics BranchGoogle Scholar
  15. Cooke P, Gómez Uranga M, Etxeberria G (1997) Regional innovation systems: institutional and organizational dimensions. Res Policy 26:475–491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cooke P, Gómez Uranga M, Etxeberria G (1998) Regional systems of innovation: an evolutionary perspective. Environ Plann A 30:1563–1584CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cooke P, Morgan K (1998) The associational economy: firms, regions, and innovation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  18. Crescenzi R, Rodríguez-Pose A, Storper M (2007) The territorial dynamics of innovation: a Europe-United States comparative analysis. J Econ Geog 7:673–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Crouch C, Le Galès P, Trigilia C, Voelzkow H (eds) (2001) Local production systems in Europe. Rise or demise? Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 25–45Google Scholar
  20. Cumbers A, Mackinnon D, Chapman K (2003) Innovation, collaboration, and learning in regional clusters: a study of SMEs in the Aberdeen oil complex. Environ Plann A 35:1689–1706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Doloreux D, Parto S (2005) Regional innovation systems: current discourse and unresolved issues. Technol Soc 27:133–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dosi G (1988) Sources, procedures and microeconomic effects of innovation. J Econ Lit 26:1120–1171Google Scholar
  23. EC (2006) Praxis manual for innovation policy-makers and practitioners, EC Publication: DG Enterprise & IndustryGoogle Scholar
  24. Evangelista R, Iammarino S, Mastrostefano V, Silviani A (2002) Looking for regional systems of innovation evidence from the Italian innovation survey. Reg Stud 36:173–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fagerberg J (1987) A technology gap approach to why growth rates differ. Res Policy 16:87–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fagerberg J (1994) Technology and international differences in growth rates. J Econ Lit 32:1147–1175Google Scholar
  27. Gordon I, McCann P (2000) Industrial clusters: complexes, agglomeration and/or social networks. Urban Stud 37:513–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Howells J (1999) Regional systems of innovation? In: Archibugi D, Howells J, Michie J (eds) Innovation policy in a global economy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 67–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Iammarino S (2005) An evolutionary integrated view of regional systems of innovation: concepts, measures and historical perspectives. Eur Plan Stud 13:497–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Iammarino S, McCann P (2006) The structure and evolution of industrial clusters: transactions, technology and knowledge spillovers. Res Policy 35:1018–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jacobsson S, Bergek A, Carlsson B, Lindmark S, Rickne A (2006) Analyzing the dynamics and functionality of technological innovation systems: a scheme of analysis. Report delivered to VINNOVAGoogle Scholar
  32. Keeble D, Lawson C, Moore B, Wilkinson F (1999) Collective learning processes, networking and ‘institutional thickness’ in the Cambridge region. Reg Stud 33:319–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maclaurin WR (1953) The sequence from invention to innovation and its relation to economic growth. Q J Econ 67:97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Martin R, Sunley P (2003) Deconstructing clusters: chaotic concept or policy panacea? J Econ Geog 3:5–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Melachroinos KA, Spence N (2001) Manufacturing productivity growth across European Union states: 1978–94. Environ Plann A 33:1681–1703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moore G, McKenna R (1999) Crossing the chasm: marketing and selling high tech products to mainstream customers. Harper, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Moreno R, Paci R, Usai S (2005) Spatial spillovers and innovation activity in European regions. Environ Plann A 37:1793–1812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Morgan K (1997) The learning region: institutions, innovation and regional renewal. Reg Stud 31:491–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Porter ME (2000) Location, competition, and economic development: local clusters in a global economy. Econ Dev Q 14:15–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Porter ME (2008) Clusters and competition: new agendas for companies, governments, and institutions. In Porter ME (ed) On competition. Harvard Business Review Books, Cambridge, MA, pp 213–304Google Scholar
  41. Rodríguez-Pose A (1999) Innovation prone and innovation averse societies: economic performance in Europe. Growth Change 30:75–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rodríguez-Pose A, Crescenzi R (2008) R&D, spillovers, innovation systems and the genesis of regional growth in Europe. Reg Stud 41:51–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scott AJ (1988) New industrial spaces: flexible production organization and regional development in North America and Western Europe. Pion, LondonGoogle Scholar
  44. Sonn JW, Storper M (2008) The increasing importance of geographical proximity in technological innovation: an analysis of U.S. patent citations, 1975–1997. Environ Plann A 40:1020–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spencer GM, Vinodrai T, Gertler MS, Wolfe DA (2010) Do clusters make a difference? Defining and assessing their economic performance. Reg Stud 44:697–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Storper M, Venables AJ (2004) Buzz: face-to-face contact and the urban economy. J Econ Geog 4:351–370Google Scholar
  47. Taylor M (2010) Clusters: a mesmerising mantra. Tijdschr Econ Soc Ge 101:276–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Varga A (2000) Local academic knowledge spillovers and the concentration of economic activity. J Reg Sci 40:289–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wolfe DA, Gertler MS (2004) Clusters from the inside and out: local dynamics and global linkages. Urban Stud 41:1071–1093CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wooldridge J (2006) Introductory econometrics: a modern approach. South-Western Publishing company, Mason, Third edition international student editionGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of EconomicsLondonUK
  2. 2.College of EuropeBrugesBelgium

Personalised recommendations