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Working Paper
Public Policies
Mario Maggioni

2004/06: The rise and fall of industrial clusters: Technology and the life cycle of region

When a major technological innovation spreads out in both high-tech and middle/low-tech industries, new clusters appear, develop and grow at the expenses of “older” historical industrial sites. The literature has, under various labels, recognised three main stages of cluster development: an initial stage sparked by an initial exogenous, shock; a second stage driven by Marshall’s (1920) agglomeration economies (labour market pooling, supply of intermediate goods and services and knowledge spillovers); a third stage in which the cluster either achieves a sectoral leadership or declines. The paper shows how different clusters’ evolution (often told as separated stories) are part of a wider picture in which technological and spatial interactions between emerging and declining clusters play a decisive role. A final section draws some policy suggestions for public authorities and regional planners dealing with the development of an innovative cluster.

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