The Story of Cluster as a Cross-Boundary Concept: From Local Development to Management Studies

  • Annalisa Caloffi
  • Luciana Lazzeretti
  • Silvia Rita SeditaEmail author
Part of the Advances in Spatial Science book series (ADVSPATIAL)


The chapter explores in an original manner the evolutionary trajectories of the cluster concept over time through the application of analytical tools coming from the realm of bibliometric analysis and social network analysis. In particular, we build on a previous work (Lazzeretti et al. J Econ Geogr 14(1), 21–43; 2014) to observe the evolution of the cluster literature alongside two main dimensions: (1) publication outlets and (2) paper keywords. Our analysis confirms the interdisciplinary character of the cluster concept, with the presence of publication outlets from different research fields. However, the contribution of management and innovation studies increases over time. The longitudinal analysis of the keywords confirms this trend and reveals that the cluster literature is evolving from economic and sociological-related issues to management-related topics, where innovation and firm performance are the leading issues.


Industrial cluster Industrial district Bibliometric analysis Social network analysis Keyword analysis 


  1. Acs, Z. J., Anselin, L., & Varga, A. (2002). Patents and innovation counts as measures of regional production of new knowledge. Research Policy, 31(7), 1069–1085.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asheim, B. T., & Isaksen, A. (2002). Regional innovation systems: The integration of local ‘sticky’and global ‘ubiquitous’ knowledge. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 27(1), 77–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asheim, B. T., & Coenen, L. (2005). Knowledge bases and regional innovation systems: Comparing Nordic clusters. Research Policy, 34(8), 1173–1190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Audretsch, D. B., & Feldman, M. P. (2004). Knowledge spillovers and the geography of innovation. In J. V. Henderson, & J. F. Thisse (Eds.), Handbook of regional and urban economics (Vol. 4, pp 2713–2739). Amsterdam: Elseiver.Google Scholar
  5. Audretsch, D. B., & Lehmann, E. E. (2005). Does the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship hold for regions? Research Policy, 34(8), 1191–1202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Batagelj, V., & Mrvar, A. (1998). Pajek - program for large network analysis. Connect, 21(2), 47–57.Google Scholar
  7. Bathelt, H., Malmberg, A., & Maskell, P. (2004). Clusters and knowledge: Local buzz, global pipelines and the process of knowledge creation. Progress in Human Geography, 28(1), 31–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Becattini, G. (1979). Dal “settore” industriale al “distretto” industriale. Alcune considerazioni sull’unità d’indagine dell’economia industriale. Rivista di economia e politica industriale, 1, 7–21.Google Scholar
  9. Becattini, G. (1989). Sectors and/or districts: Some remarks on the conceptual foundations of industrial economics. In J. Goodman & J. Bamford (Eds.), Small firms and industrial districts in Italy (pp. 123–135). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Becattini, G. (1990). The Marshallian ID as a socio-economic notion. In F. Pyke, G. Becattini, & W. Sengenberger (Eds.), IDs and inter-firm co-operation in Italy (pp. 37–51). Geneva: International Institute for Labor Studies.Google Scholar
  11. Bellandi, M. (1989). The role of small firms in the development of Italian manufacturing industry. In J. Goodman & J. Bamford (Eds.), Small firms and industrial districts in Italy (pp. 31–62). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Belussi, F., Sammarra, A., & Sedita, S. R. (2010). Learning at the boundaries in an “open regional innovation system”: A focus on firms’ innovation strategies in the Emilia Romagna life science industry. Research Policy, 39(6), 710–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bollinger, A. S., & Smith, R. D. (2001). Managing organizational knowledge as a strategic asset. Journal of Knowledge Management, 5(1), 8–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brusco, S. (1986). Small firms and industrial districts: The experience of Italy. In D. Keeble & E. Wever (Eds.), New firms and regional development in Europe (pp. 184–202). London: Kroom Helm.Google Scholar
  15. Capello, R. (1999). Spatial transfer of knowledge in high technology milieux: Learning versus collective learning processes. Regional Studies, 33(4), 353–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Capello, R., & Faggian, A. (2005). Collective learning and relational capital in local innovation processes. Regional Studies, 39(1), 75–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Carlsson, B., Jacobsson, S., Holmén, M., & Rickne, A. (2002). Innovation systems: Analytical and methodological issues. Research Policy, 31(2), 233–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Christopherson, S., & Storper, M. (1989). The effects of flexible specialization on industrial politics and the labor market: The motion picture industry. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 42(3), 331–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cooke, P. (2001). Regional innovation systems, clusters, and the knowledge economy. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10(4), 945–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cooke, P., Roper, S., & Wylie, P. (2003). The golden thread of innovation and Northern Ireland’s evolving regional innovation system. Regional Studies, 37(4), 365–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cooke, P. N., Heidenreich, M., & Braczyk, H. J. (Eds.). (2004). Regional innovation systems: The role of governance in a globalized world. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Cruz, S. C., & Teixeira, A. A. (2010). The evolution of the cluster literature: Shedding light on the regional studies–regional science debate. Regional Studies, 44(9), 1263–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dahl, M. S., & Pedersen, C. Ø. (2004). Knowledge flows through informal contacts in industrial clusters: Myth or reality? Research Policy, 33(10), 1673–1686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. De Nooy, W., Mrvar, A., & Batagelj, V. (2011). Exploratory social network analysis with Pajek. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dei Ottati, G. (1994). Trust, interlinking transactions and credit in the industrial district. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 18(6), 529–546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Doloreux, D., & Parto, S. (2005). Regional innovation systems: Current discourse and unresolved issues. Technology in Society, 27(2), 133–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hervas-Oliver, J. L., Gonzalez, G., Caja, P., & Sempere-Ripoll, F. (2015). Clusters and industrial districts: Where is the literature going? Identifying emerging sub-fields of research. European Planning Studies, 23(9), 1827–1872.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hirst, P., & Zeitlin, J. (1997). Flexible specialization: Theory and evidence in the analysis of industrial change. In R. Hollingsworth & R. Boyer (Eds.), Contemporary capitalism: The embeddedness of institutions (pp. 220–239). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Iammarino, S., & McCann, P. (2006). The structure and evolution of industrial clusters: Transactions, technology and knowledge spillovers. Research Policy, 35(7), 1018–1036.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jaffe, A. B., & Trajtenberg, M. (2002). Patents, citations, and innovations: A window on the knowledge economy. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kaufmann, A., & Tödtling, F. (2000). Systems of innovation in traditional industrial regions: The case of Styria in a comparative perspective. Regional Studies, 34(1), 29–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Keeble, D., Lawson, C., Moore, B., & Wilkinson, F. (1999). Collective learning processes, networking and ‘institutional thickness’ in the Cambridge region. Regional Studies, 33(4), 319–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kenney, M., & Florida, R. (1988). Beyond mass production: Production and the labor process in Japan. Politics and Society, 16(1), 121–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Krugman, P. (1991). Increasing returns and economic geography. Journal of Political Economy, 99, 483–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lazzeretti, L., Sedita, S. R., & Caloffi, A. (2014). Founders and disseminators of cluster research. Journal of Economic Geography, 14(1), 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lundvall, B. Å., Johnson, B., Andersen, E. S., & Dalum, B. (2002). National systems of production, innovation and competence building. Research Policy, 31(2), 213–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Marshall, A. (1920). Principles of economics (revised ed.). London: Macmillan (reprinted by Prometheus Books, 1st ed., 1890).Google Scholar
  38. Maurseth, P. B., & Verspagen, B. (2002). Knowledge spillovers in Europe: A patent citations analysis. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 104(4), 531–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Niosi, J., & Zhegu, M. (2005). Aerospace clusters: Local or global knowledge spillovers? Industry & Innovation, 12(1), 5–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nonaka, I., & Von Krogh, G. (2009). Perspective-tacit knowledge and knowledge conversion: Controversy and advancement in organizational knowledge creation theory. Organization Science, 20(3), 635–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nonaka, I., Von Krogh, G., & Voelpel, S. (2006). Organizational knowledge creation theory: Evolutionary paths and future advances. Organization Studies, 27(8), 1179–1208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. McEvily, B., & Zaheer, A. (1999). Bridging ties: A source of firm heterogeneity in competitive capabilities. Strategic Management Journal, 20, 1133–1156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Piore, M. J., & Sabel, C. F. (1984). The second industrial divide: Possibilities for prosperity.Google Scholar
  44. Porter, M. E. (1990). The competitive advantage of nations. New York: Free Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Porter, M. E. (1998). On competition. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  46. Porter, M. E., & Ketels, C. (2009). Clusters and industrial districts: Common roots, different perspectives. In G. Becattini, M. Bellandi, & L. De Propris (Eds.), A handbook of industrial districts (pp. 172–183). Edward Elgar: Cheltenham.Google Scholar
  47. Russo, A., & Vurro, C. (2010). Cross-boundary ambidexterity: Balancing exploration and exploitation in the fuel cell industry. European Management Review, 7(1), 30–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sabel, C. F. (1999). Flexible specialisation and the re-emergence of regional economies. In Modernity: After modernity (pp. 242–289). Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  49. Saxenian, A. (1990). Regional networks and the resurgence of Silicon Valley. California Management Review, 33(1), 89–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Saxenian, A. (1991). The origins and dynamics of production networks in Silicon Valley. Research Policy, 20(5), 423–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Saxenian, A. (1994). Regional networks: Industrial adaptation in Silicon Valley and route, 128.Google Scholar
  52. Saxenian, A., & Hsu, J. Y. (2001). The Silicon Valley–Hsinchu connection: Technical communities and industrial upgrading. Industrial and Corporate Change, 10(4), 893–920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Scott, A. J. (1988). New industrial spaces: Flexible production organization and regional development in North America and Western Europe. London: Pion.Google Scholar
  54. Storper, M. (1995). The resurgence of regional economies, ten years later the region as a nexus of untraded interdependencies. European Urban and Regional Studies, 2(3), 191–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Storper, M. (1997). The regional world: Territorial development in a global economy. London and New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  56. Storper, M., & Christopherson, S. (1987). Flexible specialization and regional industrial agglomerations: The case of the US motion picture industry. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 77(1), 104–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Storper, M., & Harrison, B. (1991). Flexibility, hierarchy and regional development: The changing structure of industrial production systems and their forms of governance in the 1990s. Research Policy, 20(5), 407–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Thompson, P., & Fox-Kean, M. (2005). Patent citations and the geography of knowledge spillovers: A reassessment. American Economic Review, 95, 450–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Tsoukas, H., & Vladimirou, E. (2001). What is organizational knowledge? Journal of Management Studies, 38(7), 973–993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yang, H., Phelps, C., & Steensma, H. K. (2010). Learning from what others have learned from you: The effects of knowledge spillovers on originating firms. Academy of Management Journal, 53(2), 371–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annalisa Caloffi
    • 1
  • Luciana Lazzeretti
    • 1
  • Silvia Rita Sedita
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of Florence (IT)FlorenceItaly
  2. 2.University of Padova (IT)PadovaItaly

Personalised recommendations